From the time Will Borgen grew up playing hockey in Moorhead, he never strayed too far from his roots—but a call from Bob Motzko in late December meant it was time to pack his bags.
The 21-year-old junior defenseman at St. Cloud State, along with Bloomington native Ryan Stoa, will be competing with Team USA in the 2018 Winter Olympics.
For Borgen, the chance to compete on the world stage is a dream. We caught up with the 6-foot-2 defenseman as he prepares for PyeongChang.
MHJ: What was running through your mind the moment you found out you would be joining the Olympic squad?
Will Borgen: Just a lot of excitement right when I found out. Coach Motzko called me when he was out with the USA guys out in the World Junior Championships in Buffalo. It was kind of a surprise. I was at home over Christmas break, so I instantly told my mom and dad and they were excited for me, too. I never expected to be a part of the Olympics, so it was definitely a surprise.
MHJ: Was it always a goal of yours to make it to the Olympics one day?
Borgen: I never really dreamt of being an Olympian, because I never thought it would happen. I dreamt of just trying to play professional hockey when I got older, so this was something I kind of thought of a little more when I heard they didn’t allow NHL players this year. That’s when I started thinking maybe I had a chance.
MHJ: Anything in particular you’re looking forward to the most?
Borgen: Just being part of the Olympics in general. Being able to put on a USA jersey is incredible and a huge honor. I can’t wait to get over there.
MHJ: What’s the reaction at home been like?
Borgen: Getting a chance to represent my college, St. Cloud, and Moorhead—it’s pretty cool because I have a lot of support from the fans back home. I had a lot of text messages after I got named. I was at practice after it was named, so I didn’t see my phone for two hours, and it was just blowing up. I can tell a lot of people have been caring and watching for me, so it’s been pretty awesome.
MHJ: What is it about hockey in Minnesota that’s so special and unique?
Borgen: High school hockey in general. All kids that play hockey in Minnesota grow up wanting to play in the State Tournament. Minnesota hockey has helped me, and Moorhead hockey has helped me a lot with my growth. It’s pretty special to play in Minnesota—I think all kids can agree on that.
MHJ: Any role models on the ice?
Borgen: Mostly the Moorhead guys, Matt Cullen and Chris VandeVelde. I watched them when I was growing up and got to skate with them as I got older. I skate with them every summer now, and I’ve been skating with them for the last five years, so I’ve been able to talk to them quite a bit.
MHJ: What advice would you give to young skaters hoping to reach their goals?
Borgen: Just keep working hard. If you want to focus on hockey specifically, just skate and do what you can to get better.
Any superstitions? I don’t really have any! I don’t do too much before a game. Usually just play two-touch with a soccer ball and then team warm-ups.
If you could have dinner with one person, past or present, who would it be? Michael Jordan.
What’s at the top of your bucket list? Skydiving.
Dream job as a kid? Just being a hockey player. Dream job besides that—I always thought coaching would be cool.
Any pet peeves? When people bite their silverware.