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Ila Borders Bio

I was raised in SoCal with a baseball in my hand. My dream in life was to be a professional baseball player. I grew up loving to play all sports and was a daredevil on my bike, but baseball was my passion! I played Little League, Pony Ball, High School, College and Professional baseball with the boys. I became the first woman to receive a scholarship to play men’s collegiate baseball. I played 4 years of college ball and became the first woman to get a win in men’s collegiate baseball. I went on to play men’s professional baseball for 4 years. I became the first woman to get a win in men’s integrated professional baseball, was a part of the Northern League Championship team and my gear is on display at The Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.


After retiring from baseball, I wanted to get into a profession that presented new challenges daily, was physically active, a part of a team but also worked independently and was something I could be proud of that served others. During my time playing at Vanguard University, the Costa Mesa Fire Department would come out to watch me play baseball and that had a profound effect on me. I held the firefighters in such high regard and when they came out to support me it gave me confidence. Now I wanted to be that firefighter!


September 1, 2001, I enrolled with Santa Ana College. I was working full time as a teacher, volunteering 24 hours a week at a local fire department and going to school. I was broke, tired but extremely happy. I sold everything I had in order to make ends meet. I went on to receive my A.S. in Fire Technology 2004.   


Having no family in the fire service and being extremely green I had a lot to learn. Santa Ana prepared me very well, but I was in debt. I was paying for rent, food, physical abilities tests, gas to get to testing sites, application fees, etc.  It got to the point were I could not test because I couldn’t afford it. I do not want this to hold others back like it did for me. The only thing to hold you back should be your character and work ethic.


I was very fortunate and got hired by Long Beach Fire, CA. in 2004. I then moved to Gilbert, AZ. and worked with Gilbert Fire until 2015. In 2015, I started with Cornelius Fire and currently; I am a Captain/Paramedic and a part of the Recruitment and Retention team. I also work as a Fire Academy Instructor for Portland Community College, coach baseball for USA Baseball and MLB and recently started my Master’s in Public Administration.


My passion has changed from playing baseball to helping others get into the fire service. Being a firefighter/paramedic has given so much to me and now I want to give everything back to you!

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