Posted On: 07/4/19 2:56 PM
For years she has been known as the little sister. Now people across the country are learning that she’s got big game. Her name is Katie Borowicz, and last week in Los Angeles at the Adidas All American Camp the point guard from Roseau made it clear that she is a prospect to be reckoned with. The #3 player in the Prep Girls Hoops Class of 2021 – and the top point guard among Minnesota’s incoming juniors – can flat out play. Josh Hersch, who coaches Katie in AAU ball with the Minnesota Stars, remembers well the first time he saw Borowicz in 6th grade.
“Who is that kid?!,” Hersch recalls saying at the time. “Who is this little sparkplug running all over the place, dribbling around people and playing with a motor that just didn’t stop. I was just watching and smiling. It was fun.”
Hersch has been smiling ever since, and why not. Borowicz (pronounced ‘bore-awe-vitch’) has evolved into an outstanding player, a legitimate floor leader and an elite athlete with high-level college offers. Along the way Katie led Hersch’s squad to an AAU state championship, won a high school state title with Roseau and developed a reputation as a classy kid who treats everyone around her with genuine respect. She also slipped out from under the shadow of her rather accomplished sisters.
The Kylie, Kacie & Katie Show
Ah yes, the sisters. That would be Kylie, who is an incoming junior at MSU-Moorhead. That would be Kacie, the 2019 Minnesota Miss Basketball, who will be a freshman at the University of North Dakota. Both are incredible players. Kylie Borowicz is the scoring machine, the bulldog who could always be counted on to put up 30 points when her team needed it most. Kacie Borowicz is the skillful surgeon, the precise, cerebral point guard who can dissect a defense with the best of them.
And then there’s Katie. When Roseau won its Class AA state championship in 2017, she was the X factor, the little kid in junior high who could handle the ball with the best of them. She never stopped moving, and was a defensive dynamo. Together the three girls and their Rams teammates made basketball magic, going undefeated at 32-0.
Kylie and Kacie have played a huge role in shaping Katie’s game. Never shy about getting on her case on and off the floor, they have helped hone her into a fearless competitor who may, in the end, turn out to be better than both of them. “When you play with your sisters there is going to be fighting,” Katie said with a laugh. “I’m going to be honest: I don’t’ think there has ever been a perfect day. People say, ‘Those Borowiczs are crazy,’ but that has actually made me mentally stronger. They are always guiding me. Honestly it has helped me so much.”
As a result of that sisterly love, and a desire to win that burns red hot all the time, Borowicz is as tough as they come. It’s a trait Hersch has seen over and again for many years. “It’s probably no surprise that the other team is going to pay some attention to her,” Hersch said. “We have seen every type of plan to take her away, and there are some really good defenders out there. It can get rough. At times she is getting just laid out, she is getting held, she is getting hurt. But I tell you what – and this comes with a really big knock on wood – the kid keeps on getting up and shaking it off. It’s something that stands out when people come to watch us play.”
A trip to Hollywood
On America’s Got Talent the Golden Buzzer gets you a trip to Hollywood. Excel at basketball on an Adidas-affiliated AAU club and you can earn a trip to Tinsel Town, too. The California event featured 54 of the premier players in America. The skill level was very high. The compete factor was off the charts. It was the type of atmosphere that can be intimidating to the uninitiated. “It was awesome, just a great experience,” Borowicz said.
Was she nervous? “Not really,” she said matter-of-factly. “I was more nervous about meeting people to be honest. That was probably my main concern.” How did she do? “I felt pretty good. I mean, I wasn’t the tallest obviously, but I felt I had enough strength to measure up to their height.”
Katie’s height has been the subject of much discussion over the years. When Roseau won that state title she was tiny. Mr. and Mrs. Borowicz aren’t exactly towering giants, but they did pass on some quality athletic genes. David was a standout football player at the University of North Dakota. Tracy made her mark in college basketball at Moorhead State. Fortunately the basketball gods were smiling on the Borowiczs, the growth spurt materialized and Katie is now a solid 5’7 in shoes. Combined with her outstanding skill set, mental capacity and warrior mentality, that is plenty tall enough to excel in women’s college basketball. Borowicz is currently preparing for the next level.
“I’m really working on my pull-up jumper now because I know I will be going into the trees in college. I need to have that shot,” she said. “I’m also trying to be shiftier to get the defense off their feet instead of just trying to beat them off one dribble. I know that some people might be quicker than me, they might be really good defenders, so I need to do that.”
Going solo day after day
In an era when elite players often have a personal basketball trainer, work with specialized fitness coaches and attend an endless string of camps and clinics, Borowicz is old school. She spends about two hours a day on the court and another hour or so in the weight room. When she isn’t sleeping or eating chances are she’s thinking about basketball. “I usually go to the gym every day, and I go by myself,” she said. “I work on things that will help me get better. I look on YouTube and find all of these drills. I’ve never had a trainer. I have never worked with anyone else, except with my dad and my mom.”
Hersch shares a story that he believes epitomizes what Borowicz is all about. It was the night of Roseau’s state championship victory, the highlight of a young basketball career. It was also the day before Hersch’s team would hold its first practice of the AAU season, and his point guard was not happy. “Katie gets done winning the state tournament and she’s practically in tears because she wants to go to practice with us the next day,” Hersch recalled. “I had to tell her, ‘Katie there is a parade for you in your home town. You have to go. Take this one off. It’s OK.’”
“Through all of the big games our team has played in, through all of the big games her high school team has played in, through all the recruiting process she just doesn’t get caught up in things. Katie just wants to know when she can get in the gym again. When is the next practice? When is the next game? She just keeps playing. In a state where we have a lot of them, she is absolutely the definition of a gym rat.”
On the road again
Raising a high-level basketball player is a real commitment of time and resources for families. It takes sacrifice and focus and discipline, and no family has done more than the Borowiczs. They live about 10 miles south of the Canadian border, 357 miles from Bloomington Kennedy High School which is the epicenter of AAU basketball in Minnesota. Nothing like a 12-hour round trip to bring a family closer together! Needless to say, there are a ton of miles on the family van. Katie laughs when her high school teammates complain about having to do their homework on the school bus. “Well I’m used to that,” she said. “This is my home.”
“There are so many dedicated players in Minnesota,” Hersch said “but this family has made an extreme commitment. I can’t complain about driving in rush hour traffic to get to Bloomington for practice when they drive over six hours one way. And by the way there are younger brothers, too, which people might not realize.”
Yep, there are two more athletes in the family. Jake is about to enter the 7th grade, Jordan is going into 5th, and the family runs here, there and everywhere for their sports, too. “I try to get to their games whenever I can,” Katie said.
A coach in the making
Borowicz had a big sophomore year at Roseau. She averaged 20 points per game and scored 30 in back-to-back contests against Mountain Iron-Buhl and Proctor. Katie also averaged 6.7 rebounds, 7.2 assists and 5.8 steals. Roseau suffered a heartbreaking loss at the state tournament to Redwood Valley. In the third place game, however, Katie broke a 40-year-old state record with 20 assists.
It can be a bit of a cliché when discussing points guards to say a player makes everyone around her better. In Katie’s case, however, it is the swear-on-the-Bible truth. I remember sitting with her at an AAU game three years ago as we watched Kacie do her thing on the court. It was like talking to a college coach the way Katie analyzed the game. I recall thinking she would make a great coach, which is exactly what she intends to do long-term – after a career in professional basketball, that is.
Although Katie admits she has sometimes been guilty of trying to win the game all by herself, she knows that isn’t the best plan. “What I’m really working on right now, and I think I have gotten better on, is controlling my speed and not going at 100 percent full speed all the time because that’s when turnovers happen,” she said. “I have been controlling my pace, which has reduced the number of turnovers and created more opportunities for me and my teammates.”
Her understanding of the point guard role is next level. Consider this nugget of wisdom: “When I go to college I know that everyone is going to be good so I need to do a good job of distributing the ball so I can make my teammates better,” she said. “It’s not about making them happy. It’s about what will make the whole team better.” Truth!
In search of scholarships
Like most of the elite AAU teams in Minnesota, Stars 2021 Hersch hits the road this week to display their wares in front of dozens of college coaches. It is a talented team loaded with scholarship-level prospects. Besides Borowicz the Stars feature 2021 #11 Tamia Ugass of Roseville, #13 Paige Kindseth of Farmington, #25 Caela Tighe of Big Lake, #26 Raegan Alexander of St. Louis Park, #27 Faith Alberts of Parkers Prairie, #38 Kate Trachsel of Prior Lake, #42 Mia Huberty of Big Lake and #52 Caiya Wulf of Edina.
Several of these talented athletes already have offers. Every one of them is chasing the dream, and Borowicz has the tools in her box to help make that dream a reality for herself and her teammates. “It’s not about me. It’s not about them. It’s about us,” Borowicz said. “I just think about trying to win.”
Top photo: Kylie (left), Kacie (center) and Katie (right) Borowicz celebrated their 2017 state championship victory under the bright lights. (Photo courtesy of KSTC Channel 45 TV)