BY DALLAS SMITH
WINNIPEG, Manitoba—The 2017 NCAA Lacrosse Season is just around the corner and as excitement builds within the lacrosse communities around the United States, it should also be building within Manitoba. There are several Manitoba Lacrosse players currently competing at Division I and Division II Level south of the border. One of these players is a Winnipeg native, Kelson Borisenko.
Borisenko has a great passion for lacrosse, especially lacrosse in Manitoba. In his introductory e-mail to me, Borisenko expressed his willingness to help lacrosse in Manitoba in any way possible. Borisenko wrote, “I hate to see the numbers of lacrosse players dropping in Manitoba. I feel driven to change it.” After a brief meeting during his winter break, it was obvious that this individual was someone who was extremely willing and capable to affect change in the province of Manitoba. Look for Borisenko to be an active component in MLA Programs during the Summer of 2017 and beyond.
An important step in changing the dynamic of lacrosse in Manitoba is to expose our younger players to those who have experienced the multitude of benefits accompanied by playing lacrosse. Borisenko is one of the few players in Manitoba who has gone on to compete at the highest level of amateur lacrosse. The Freshman lacrosse player gives great insight into the opportunities, challenges, and benefits of playing lacrosse the Division I Level.
After completing a post-graduate year at the Hill Academy under the tutelage of Brodie and Patrick Merrill, Borisenko spearheaded the Manitoba Blizzard’s Championship season by totaling 106 regular season points. After winning the RMLL Championship and competing in the Founder’s Cup, Borisenko made his way south to play for the Manhattan Jaspers, a NCAA Division I Program based in the Bronx (New York City).
Briefly give us some thoughts on your first year playing Division I Lacrosse.
Thus far, my first year playing Division I lacrosse has been a great learning experience, to say the least. You have to bring maximum effort and perform to the best of your ability on and off the field. This means attempting to excel both in lacrosse and in the classroom. Every day brings a new challenge either physically, mentally, or both. Despite the challenge, I would not exchange this opportunity for anything. I am living the dream.
Describe the importance of being a Student-Athlete, not just an athlete.
Being a student is an extremely important aspect of playing a sport in college. You have to live a lifestyle that translates into the classroom, like lacrosse you cannot suddenly decide to put maximum effort in, it has to be consistent. In college, you need to attempt to dominate the classroom just like you try and dominate your opponent on the field.
How do you balance being a Student-Athlete? You spend long hours on the field and in the weight room and then have to complete all your school work as well. Most students only worry about the latter. How do you balance the two?
As a student-athlete, you don’t have a lot of time to waste, our team practices at 6:00 am Monday-Friday, lifts three days a week, along with a game on Saturday. The lacrosse schedule combined with taking six courses with a lab does not leave a lot of time to waste. The one major skill that I have developed over my first semester is time management. Going right from classes to the library and doing the homework right away allows me to succeed in the classroom. Honestly, I was a terrible procrastinator before College but I have since created a very effective routine and system for balancing the two.
What were some major challenges you had to work through during your first Fall Ball and Pre-Season?
The biggest challenge I faced in the Fall was adjusting to the speed of the game. Playing in High School, it was easy to react to what the offense was doing and adjust accordingly, but at this level, you must be one step ahead of your opponent if you want to stop them.
An often omitted or less-talked about portion of lacrosse is the weight room and lifting regiment, what’s it been like being in a rigorous training program and how has it translated to success on the field?
Before Manhattan, I was never a big weightlifter, but I have come to appreciate that you win games, especially close games, during the week in the weight room. Our team does a tremendous job working hard in the weight room. You can see the results on the field.
How have the upperclassmen helped you early in your career at Manhattan on and off the field? Has anyone been a large influence on you?
Coming to a school in a different country can be a daunting thought for anyone, but one Junior Zach Mermelstein has shown me what it takes to be a Division I Lacrosse player and truly showed me the ropes here.
New York State is one of the biggest lacrosse “hubs” in the country, what is it like being in one of the best lacrosse hot spots in North America?
Being in a lacrosse hotbed like New York has opened my eyes to the potential of Manitoba Lacrosse. During some of our practices, we have kids in the stands watching and waiting for us to get off the field so they can use it. In Manitoba, you don’t see kids out on their own playing lacrosse. I would really like to change that knowing all the opportunity lacrosse has given me. I believe it can impact every kid positively once playing.
Have you been to Long Island yet? If so, is it really true that everything is better? The bagels? The beaches? The pizza? The sandwiches? I hear even the water tastes better?
I haven’t been to Long Island yet but, I asked some of my teammates for their input on this question. Luke Hanson, a Freshman from Minisink Valley, NY said that everything is better on Long Island.
Describe your feelings heading into your first full season.
I couldn’t be more excited, we have a packed schedule with games that you dream about playing as a little kid. I want nothing more than to put that jersey on, on February 4th and step onto the field.
Is there a game on your schedule you’re most looking forward to?
One game I’m looking forward to is UMass Lowell on March 11th, 2017. I have it circled on my calendar. I have been linemates with Kennan Koswin almost all my life, from my time in Pee Wee with the Falcons to our time together on the Manitoba Blizzard. He’s a tremendous athlete and I cannot wait to see him in a different jersey for the first time since high school.
The Jaspers kick off their 2017 Season with their home opener against the Bryant Bulldogs on February 4th, 2017. Following their home opener, the Jaspers will play thirteen more games, including six conference games. The Jaspers will face off against Quinnipiac University, the reigning MAAC Champions on Saturday, April 4th, 2017.