BY DALLAS SMITH
WINNIPEG, Manitoba—The first few Division I games began last weekend across the United States. This week the majority of teams begin their seaso, including the University of Massachusetts Lowell River Hawks, where Winnipeg native Keenan Koswin’s team is preparing to face Boston University this upcoming Saturday.
Kowsin played his youth lacrosse with the North Winnipeg Falcons and his high school lacrosse with Garden City Collegiate. After graduating from the Falcons, he played his first three years of Junior with the Manitoba Gryphons and Blizzard organizations. Last year, Koswin transitioned to play Junior A with the Saskatchewan SWAT.
After graduating from high-school, Kowsin went on to study at an urban public research university in Lowell, Massachusetts while being one of the first members of a new Division I Lacrosse Program. Koswin who netted nine goals and seventeen assists in his sophomore campaign hopes to continue to be one of the key contributors heading into his Junior year.
Koswin offers a unique insight into being a Division I student-athlete. Moreover, he offers a unique view on how a new lacrosse program is being built from the ground up. His insights into the importance of personal growth and creating a positive culture are all applicable to our members, teams, and leagues in Manitoba.
Tell us about your experiences playing at UMass Lowell.
My first two and a half years in Lowell have been great! Being a part of the inaugural Division–I lacrosse team here is something special. There have been many ups and downs, but it’s great looking back to see how far we’ve grown as a team, as well as myself individually.
In your profile, you state you are the first individual from Winnipeg to play Division I Lacrosse. What does that mean to you?
It’s something I really take pride in. Manitoba hasn’t been known as a lacrosse hotbed, but the talent level of players in the province gets better every year. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a lot more Manitobans play Division I Lacrosse in the near future.
What was your biggest challenge transitioning from Manitoba Lacrosse to UMass Lowell?
I would say adjusting to the speed of the game at the college level has been my biggest challenge. You don’t have much time to think out there, you have to drill the right plays in your memory during practice, so when it comes to a game you’re just anticipating and reacting.
Describe the importance of being a student-athlete and balancing both academics and athletics.
Coach Stephenson puts a huge emphasis on academics, making sure my team is in a great position to succeed both on and off the field. Being a student-athlete is all about balancing academics and athletics, it really helps prepare you to succeed in whatever you do after college.
Being a part of a new Division I Program has many challenges, it is great to see your team improving every year. What is the biggest challenge your program has had over your first three years?
I think our biggest challenge has been on establishing our identity as a team and building a strong culture around it. UMass Lowell is a blue-collar school and that’s the type of team we want to be known for.
Being one of the founding members of your Division I Program, what emphasis do you put on building a strong foundation and culture of hard work that can pass to new freshman classes?
There has been a huge emphasis on building a foundation and culture, this is really important in establishing our identity. We really want to set a good example for the freshman so they can follow in our footsteps.
Although the American East is not talked about as much as other divisions in lacrosse, Albany and Stony Brook seem to be consistently in the Top-20. Describe the challenges facing those two programs. How has playing against that level of competition benefited you personally, as well as your program.
Those are two very talented teams; you have really come to play if you want to compete with them. Playing against the top teams in the country has really helped show us where were at and what it’s going to take to get to the top.
I would be remiss if I did not ask you about the Long-Stick Goalie Strategy you use when trying to get the ball back at the end of games. Describe to our readers what it is and some of the strategy involved.
Since the goalie can have a 6-foot long stick, we put a goalie head on a long-pole and put a defender in goal so we have an extra advantage when we need to double-team a player and get the ball back. I thought it was hilarious at first, but the strategy behind it is pretty smart.
Your former teammate Kelson Borisenko has already said he is highlighting the match-up between your two teams on March 11th. Is it just another game or are you equally excited to go out and compete against your former teammate?
I’m equally excited as Kelson. There has only been one Manitoban to play Division I Lacrosse before us, our former coach, Luc Magnan. So, to get the opportunity to play against a former teammate and Manitoban is really cool.
The River Hawks open their season at home on Saturday February 11th, 2017 against the Boston University Terriers at 12:00pm (CST). On March 11th, there is the aforementioned match-up between the River Hawks and the Jaspers. The River Hawks finish their season with five out of their last six games against American East opponents including games against Albany on March 25th and Stony Brook on April 21st.