GUYSBROUGH – A tall, lean youth in sweat pants walks into the Afrikan Canadian Heritage and Friendship Centre in Guysborough with an air of ease, self-confidence and modesty. Tyrese Borden, at the age of 16, has earned that demeanour by showing time and time again that he has what it takes to play at the highest levels of basketball in the province for his age group. For the third year in a row, Borden has been selected to play on the provincial boys basketball team, this year in the under 17 category.
Three years ago, this paper wrote about Borden’s selection for the NS Under 15 Boys team, which went on to win gold at nationals in August of 2016. Since that time the Sunnyville native has continued to keep his eye on the ball — all while getting good grades, being a member of the school band and helping his high school basketball team (Guysborough Academy Blue Eagles) make it to various playoffs, including the provincials this coming weekend.
Borden's inclusion on the provincial team this year was not a fait accompli, despite his performance in the previous two years. He had to attend tryouts like all the other prospective players and was told last month that he had made the cut for the under 17 age category.
When asked how he felt about making the team again Borden says, “It means a lot to me. It means I'm one of the top players in high school in the whole province. There are not too many people that are better than me at basketball; high school wise. And that is pretty important to me.”
Hard work and practice, says Borden, is what gets you to this level of play. He believes anyone can achieve their dreams in basketball, or in any other field, if they put the time in.
Putting the time in takes discipline and this level of play requires talent. Borden is modest about his abilities but coaches and scouts have been watching him and know he's got something special to offer the game.
Rural areas are often accused of limiting the dreams of their youth. Most of Borden's teammates are from the city with urban-based opportunities. “It's harder coming from a smaller town but not impossible,” says Borden of his success. “If you put the work in you will succeed. It doesn't matter where you are from or who you are.”
Although Borden believes there are special challenges to making a mark in basketball, or in any other discipline, when you're living in a rural area, there are also advantages. He's had the full support of his community. Over the past few years there have been various fundraisers to help him with travel cost to achieve his goals. “I have been kind of spoiled. I have been supported well and it really does mean a lot.”
Borden has other interests aside from basketball, including the school band where he plays alto saxophone. He likes other sports such as soccer and baseball too.
“It's not all about basketball or all about school. I can balance my time well. Do well in school, play basketball and hang out with friends. I can balance that pretty well with my schedule.”
With the focus this month on African heritage and culture, The Journal asked Borden if he saw himself as a role model for the African Nova Scotian youth in the area.
“In this school there are not many of us...but there are plenty of kids that talk to me about basketball and just life in general. It is good to be a role model to those kids.”