by, Whit Anderson, Asst. Sports Editor
Not too long ago, Kelson Borisenko was just a student with a vision. But through hard work and dedication, his vision has become a reality.
Fast forward to today, and the former Manhattan lacrosse star is now a professional athlete. Borisenko was taken in the fourth round of the 2020 National Lacrosse League Draft as the 64th overall selection by the Saskatchewan Rush.
“I started playing when I was about seven or eight years old,” Borisenko said when talking about his early connection to lacrosse. “I started in Winnipeg, which wasn’t a big lacrosse community. So for my senior year I went to play at a school in Toronto, and that’s how I ended up at Manhattan.”
Borisenko realized that in order to amplify his profile he had to leave the familiarity of his home for the big city. He attended The Hill Academy, a private high school known for having one of the best lacrosse programs in Canada.
The risk Borisenko took was consistent with the mentality he still has today. He’s always been one to envision his goals, then go after them with hard work.
“I didn’t always know if I had the ability,” Borisenko said. “It’s just that I wanted to do it. I never really gave myself an option. I was always going to work as hard as I had to in order to get there. The hard work then made me realize I could go pro around my sophomore year of college. That’s when teams reached out and word about me started to spread through the press. So this kept me working with the same mindset to get to that next level. And it ended up working out.”
As Borisenko acknowledged, the possibility of him going pro really came to fruition during his tenure at Manhattan College. He was a captain for three years and one of the best defenders in the MAAC. On top of being the head of a defense that gave up a conference-best 9.33 goals-per-game in 2020, he was the key cog in Manhattan’s renowned man-down defense that was one of the best in Division 1 lacrosse. He even managed to tally two goals and six assists despite offense not being his position.
Borisenko accomplished so much at Manhattan in such a short time, but his biggest takeaways from his experience were the lessons he gained.
“The biggest thing I learned is that your coaches can only take you so far,” Borisenko said. “At the end of the day, you have practice for two to three hours a day six days a week, something like that. But you gotta think that everyone is doing that. Everybody across the country is doing that exact same thing. So if you want to find a way to separate yourself from the pack and be an elite player, then you just gotta find a way to do more.”
It’s no coincidence that Borisenko developed into a player that the NLL wanted as someone who combines natural talent with an admirable work ethic. Although he was by no means a lacrosse prodigy growing up, his unwavering commitment to outwork others helped propel him to the professional ranks.
Borisenko has always been determined to never let anything alter his work ethic, and that included the possibility of him not getting drafted.
“There was definitely some doubt,” Borisenko said when reflecting on the emotions of draft night. “I was projected to go higher than when my name was called. But I was fortunate enough to be selected by the Rush. But I knew I had to keep the same mindset. So if I wasn’t called it wasn’t the end of the world. It doesn’t matter how you get there. So if I didn’t get selected, I would start thinking of other ways to get there, how I could work harder, and just keep pushing.”
Thankfully for Borisenko, he did get drafted and is solidified on a team. But he also knows this is just the beginning, and therefore is aware he has to prove himself all over again. In the end, it is the same mindset that has carried him this far that will also be a key ingredient for him to have a successful career as a professional.
“I’m always working to stay ready for when the time comes.”