In Georgetown, Ontario, most people assume that if you’re an athlete, you must be a hockey player. Here at UTM, at first glance, 6’2 Kyle Boorman looks like he must play basketball.

Boorman is a 2nd year guard for the UTM men’s basketball team. His basketball journey began when he was six-years-old, in a league in his town. He says his drive to compete began when he was cut from his elementary school basketball team when he was nine. It bothered him, and he knew then he couldn’t let that be the end. He dedicated the next year to developing his game, made difficult by the lack of gyms in his small community. If Boorman wanted to put in the work, he had to settle for an outdoor net. In the winter months, he shoveled snow to clear his makeshift basketball court, sometimes wearing two to three pairs of gloves. His sacrifice was rewarded when he made the school team the following year. Though he achieved his goal, proved his worth, he refused to let it stop there. Year after year, Boorman continued to work on his game, until he became the best at his school.

He credits his high school basketball coach at Georgetown High School for his increased development. His coach often worked with him throughout the summer, so he could get better. It was still difficult to get court time, even with his coach, so he continued to spend most of the time playing outside.

In high school, something happened that would forever change how Boorman saw the sport of basketball. Something that would change not only why Boorman would continue to pick up a ball and play, but who he would play for.

When he was 16, one of Boorman’s closest friends committed suicide. “He was the type of guy, who’d be the first in the gym. We worked out together. He really inspired me,” says Boorman. He has his friends last name tattooed on his arm. “What I do, I try to do for him. He was the one who always worked hard, and it really pushed me. Whenever I don’t feel like training, or shooting around, I think about him. And it gets me moving.” The tragedy might have inspired Boorman to continue in his basketball pursuit, but it also made him an advocate for mental health. In grade 11 and 12, Boorman was the force behind a mental health awareness event at his school, which he organized in his friend’s honour. “[Mental Health] is so important, and people just don’t take it seriously. And it’s why I think raising awareness to it is so important,” Boorman says.

Boorman was determined to challenge himself, and his capabilities, and advance to the next level: playing in university. However, Boorman wasn’t heavily recruited by any schools. He contacted a lot of college and university coaches, and schools two years ago. He even came out to some of the open sessions they held. “I wasn’t as good as some of the guys that came out. I remember a coach emailing me that I wasn’t guaranteed a spot. And the deadline to accept admission offers to universities was coming up. Over the summer I went to every single practice and workout and got better. By the end, I had made the [UTM] team.” Boorman persisted with that same grit throughout the season and was awarded UTM’s 2017/2018 Rookie of the Year.

Boorman, in his second year at UTM, majors in Criminology. He says first year was an adjustment coming out of high school. It took some time to navigate academically, and it’s much better now than when he started. Boorman believes he’s not the only one who has grown this past year at UTM. “I think the sports culture has really changed. There’s been a lot more attention towards it. And people like [Varsity Program Director] Brittany [Tierney] and the rest of the department is really working hard to create more of a sports orientated atmosphere.”

UTM’s varsity basketball program is in it’s second season. Our varsity men’s basketball finished second to last in their inaugural season, having won only 2 games. Though they start their second season 2-4, there’s been a lot of improvement, and it’s clear there’s much more to come. “We have a much larger roster this year than we did last year,” says Boorman. Their size, in both individual height and numbers, has already provided UTM’s young varsity basketball program a much-needed boost.

Despite all the time and effort the team puts into development, through practices, workouts, and watching film, Boorman still tries to get in his own individual workouts. He’s constantly striving for greatness, but not for himself. “This year I’ve been focusing on shooting. I’ve also been working on my athleticism, and my defence. I feel like I can really expand my game. But what my team needs right now is someone who can shoot, to hit threes and make jump shots. Zee [number 12 Zamam Khan] and Greg [number 3 Gregory Roberts] open up the floor with their drives. Those two [Zamam and Greg] are the one’s taking the contact and opening the floor for the rest of us to take those shots.” Boorman believes it’s more important to the team that he fulfills a role. If that role is shooting and defense, he’s going to do what he must to provide it.

Boorman is grateful for the opportunity UTM has given him, and to be apart of its growing athletic community. He feels there’s more of a connection between the athletes this year. “Not just in our [basketball] team, but all the varsity sports. We’re more connected this year. It feels more like a family. And I’m proud to be a part of it,” says Boorman.