When Megan Boys began looking at colleges in high school, she knew she wanted a change, something different from her life in Ventura, Calif.
“I was ready to leave home and wanted a change. And the East Coast is obviously different from Southern California,” Boys said. “On my recruiting trip I really liked the team and had fun with them. I knew Penn had a good program and obviously that academics were a big part of it.”
College athletics seem to provide experiences that student-athletes may never forget, whether it be on the playing field or not. For Boys, playing soccer at Penn has opened up several opportunities and experiences that have been engrained in her memory forever.
Last winter break, the active participant in Athletes in Action (AIA), an organization designed to integrate sports, religion and service, was looking to get more involved. After visiting the AIA website, she came across The Soccer Project, an eight-week program that incorporated competitive soccer and religious study, both things extremely important to Boys. After some encouraging from her mother, Boys decided to participate in the program.
After classes ended in May, Boys traveled to Vancouver, Canada for the program headquartered at Trinity University with 15 other student-athletes from across the nation. Playing soccer competitively with the group, she had practices and games almost daily. But the program also had speakers, activities and service projects. It was one service project in particular that would impact her.
“This project was just not about soccer,” Boys said. “We had different outreach opportunities to the surrounding communities. One of these, also my highlight of the trip, was visiting a women’s prison.”
Boys and a group of six girls would go to the prison to play soccer with the women, giving them a fun activity once a week. However, they soon learned was these women wanted more than anything their friendship. As the weeks progressed they played less and less soccer with them and did more of just talking.
“Through this time I got to hear about their lives sharing their and what they believe the future holds for them. I got to see the real woman, not just a prisoner,” she said.
“It was awesome how the more they got to know us and felt more comfortable around us, the more the walls they had built up were coming down. By this I mean, the women who at first mocked us, and made intimidating glares at us, were now the ones sitting in the grass with us talking.”
Taking what she learned from the trip, Boys returned home to California with a new appreciation for things in her life. Through this experience she has learned that there is more to a book than its cover.
~ Written by Kelly McCathy, athletic communications assistant for the Oct. 12 Game Day Program.