Quarterback Scott Borden Jr. knows a thing or two about overcoming adversity on the football field. It started when he was eight years old.
“You weren’t supposed to play football until you were 12 years old, so I was playing with all the older kids,” he says.
Borden Jr. grew into quite the athlete as he grew up, excelling not only in football, but also basketball and baseball for Halifax West High School in Nova Scotia. His goal was always to pursue sports at the university level, and he got the opportunity on the gridiron in 2013, committing to his hometown school of Saint Mary’s.
A year into his time with the Huskies however, Borden Jr. was yet again forced to overcome a major obstacle.
It was the third week of the 2014 Atlantic University Sport (AUS) season against Mount Allison. Borden Jr. was asked to run a quarterback draw on the last play of the first half. Hoping to make a big play to spark his team, he quickly felt the weight of two Mounties defenders on his back. The duo fell on top of him as he landed on the football.
His wrist snapped, wrapping around the football like a coil.
“It sounded like a branch,” Borden Jr. says. “That was tough, and it was my throwing arm too.”
The pivot ended up having surgery after discovering that he’d broken both the radius and ulna in his forearm. Doctors told him they didn’t know if he’d ever be able to play football again. It all depended how hard he worked with his rehab.
Borden Jr. went right to work, making a remarkable recovery. The injury occurred at the end of October, and he was throwing the ball again before Christmas.
“Breaking my wrist was a blessing, because now I had no excuse,” he says. “I had to work hard no matter what, because if I didn’t, there’s a chance I couldn’t play anymore.”
Borden Jr. was rewarded for his dedication with an invitation to the Montreal Alouette’s mini-camp that June as part of the U SPORTS internship program. He got the opportunity to work alongside Anthony Calvillo, and made great strides in his game.
The future looked bright for the young quarterback entering the 2015 season with Saint Mary’s. But in the first week of the season, he was forced to navigate yet another troubling situation.
Borden Jr. had won the starting quarterback job in training camp, and had expected to be the guy for the Huskies. But instead, former Saint Mary’s head coach Perry Marchese opted to go with a two-quarterback system.
This came as a shock to the sophomore pivot, and he decided that it was in his best interest to de-commit from the program, as he didn’t feel that he’d been given an appropriate opportunity to play to the best of his abilities.
Borden Jr. was contacted by a number of schools as soon as he de-committed. Ultimately, he decided to take his talents out to British Columbia for the 2016 season, signing with the Westshore Rebels, a junior football team in the British Columbia Football Conference (BCFC).
“My mindset was, I might as well go to junior, develop as a player, sit my year [of university football] out and come back to university polished.”
The Rebels had been a perennial basement dweller in the conference, finishing 2-8 the year prior. But former Westshore head coach JC Boice assembled a who’s-who of university athletes in the offseason, securing Manitoba’s Jamel Lyles, Christian Krause and Kent Hicks, Mount Allison’s Shaun Robinson and Bishop’s Jeremie Drouin, just to name a few.
The squad rallied together, winning the conference title, before being knocked off in the national final by the Saskatoon Hilltops.
“We were a team,” Borden Jr. says. “That was the best team atmosphere that I’ve ever been on.”
That offseason, the pivot signed with the University of Alberta. Unfortunately, he was forced to de-commit, as be was unable to get a scholarship for the 2017 season. With his university plans put on hold momentarily, he chose to return to Westshore.
The Rebels finished the year 9-1 before being upset in the conference final. Borden Jr. was a standout, finishing the year with 1904 passing yards and 12 touchdowns en route to a conference all-star selection. The two years with Westshore fully prepared him for his second go-around at university football, as he was lining up against the best-of-the-best.
“Our practices were harder than the games,” he says. “You knew you were going against the best defensive line that you were going to see all year, or the best defensive backs. It really taught you how to compete all the time.”
At the end of the year, Borden Jr. knew he wanted to get back to university. He had his sights set on the Canada West, due to the consistently high level of competition. That’s when Manitoba’s Brian Dobie came knocking. He was given a good word about Borden Jr. from Lyles, who had returned to the Bisons for the 2017 season.
Dobie gave his reasoning about why Manitoba would be the right fit, and Borden Jr. bought in. He’ll be joining a roster that already has veteran Theo Deezar and upstart Des Catellier, who saw action in the back half of the 2017 campaign. But for the Halifax product, it’s just another challenge he’s ready to take on.
“Everywhere I’ve been, I’ve always had to compete,” he says. “I’d rather have to do that than to have the job handed to me. As a quarterback, you need to know that you have to perform. I like knowing that.”