Rachel Boaz: A soccer star’s journey to BYU

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Rachel Boaz, starting goal keeper, right, with teammate Paige Hunt. Boaz has made a positive impact on and off the field since transferring to BYU. (Rachel Boaz)

Rachel Boaz knew accepting a full-ride soccer scholarship to San Diego State University was right, but a simple prompting led her to question her future career with the Aztecs.

Boaz is now at BYU and has had a huge impact on the soccer program. She said once she decided to dedicate her life to the Lord, the rest fell into place. As BYU’s starting goalkeeper, she has not only shown to be a fierce competitor and asset to the team, but has proven to be a glowing example of the good that can happen when one follows the promptings of the Lord.

“She’s always trying to improve and be better and I think that sets a great example to her team whether it’s the spiritual side or with soccer,” Aleisha Rose, BYU women’s soccer assistant coach said.

The 23-year-old from Murrieta, California, started developing her spiritual and competitive natures at a young age. She grew up in a close-knit, gospel-oriented family.

“We went to church every Sunday, we went to all of our activities and my parents sought that I accepted callings,” Boaz said. “They gave me a solid foundation in the gospel.”

Aside from sharing a family dedication to the gospel, Boaz said they shared a love for music and athleticism. Because of their athletic nature, Boaz said that her parents put her and her siblings through sports at a young age. This would prove to be pivotal moment that would start her athletic career.

“We always did like two sports at a time,” Boaz said. “I think it was good because it kept us competitive, it kept us out of trouble, it kept us busy.”

Her years of training and athletic competitiveness eventually caught the eyes of many college level soccer programs.

When Boaz was a sophomore in high school she started to get recruited by multiple college soccer programs. Of all the programs, two initially stood out to her as possible choices, one being Brigham Young University and the other San Diego State University. She was faced with a difficult decision and turned to her faith for answers.

“When I was a sophomore I wasn’t really thinking about San Diego State University. BYU also recruited me and I knew with a lot of fasting and prayer I would get an answer to where I had to be at the time,” Boaz said.

After a lot of thought she felt that it was not right to go to BYU then, even though she wanted to.

“It just didn’t feel right at the time. I got a strong confirmation of the spirit that I was supposed to go to San Diego State University at the time,” Boaz said. “I know I made the right decision at that time in my life.”

Once at San Diego State University’s soccer program, she played two full seasons with them as their main keeper. Over time, she started to feel the emotional, physical and spiritual pull from not being able to attend her church meetings as much, due to team travel. She said that during this time she also started receiving promptings.

“Heavenly Father kept prompting me and putting thoughts in my mind. I was feeling like there needed to be a change in my life. I just didn’t know what to change,” Boaz said.

This prompting of change kept resurfacing in Boaz’s mind, but things started to become more clear as the promptings turned into tangible signs.

While in Minnesota for a pre-season game over LDS conference weekend, Boaz received a phone call from a family friend.

“A dear friend family friend of mine called and said, ‘If you have any desire to serve a mission you should serve.’ I just started bawling,” Boaz said. “I knew I had to serve a mission.”

She said that she knew this was an answer from God, but she was conflicted once again because she had already committed to San Diego State University.

She kept praying and fasting once again in search of a solution.

“I knew the Lord had something for me to do and if it meant giving up soccer completely — which is hard for me because it’s something I love — I’m willing to do that,” Boaz said.

That night, she received a blessing from her Bishop and another surprising answer to her prayers that left her in tears.

BYU heard through the grapevine that Boaz was thinking about serving a mission because her institute director called BYU Athletic Director Tom Holmoe.

“My institute director asked if BYU would take me if I served and they said, ‘Yes, if she serves we would love to have her.’ That is when I knew the answer was clear to me,” Boaz said. “I just bawled because I knew the Lord knew my heart and He blessed me with the opportunity to play again.”

After the season, Boaz served 18 months in the Seattle, Washington, Everett Mission and transferred to BYU shortly after.

“It was incredible to be an instrument in the Lord’s hands to help people receive the gospel and access the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It was the best experience I’ve ever had and the best decision I ever made,” Boaz said.

Boaz moved to Provo in December of 2014 and immediately started to train to get back to the competitive level she was at San Diego State University.

Although the transition was difficult, Boaz said she knows BYU is where she is supposed to be and she is grateful for the team and program at BYU.

“There is a spirit here at BYU and I find that there are a lot more blessings. I know this is where I am supposed to be at this time,” Boaz said. “It took me a solid eight months to get back to the shape I was at San Diego State University, but the Lord and the athletic staff here have helped me along the way. It’s been a process, but I love BYU and the team.”

Boaz has proven to be an asset to the BYU soccer program. Her competitiveness has pushed her to always try to better herself on and off the field.

BYU women’s soccer assistant coach Aleisha Rose said, “She’s never content, she’s always wanting to improve whether it’s the gospel, which is great, and also as a soccer player. ”

Chris Watkins, assistant head coach of BYU women’s soccer also expressed the qualities that made her a vital part of the team.

“She is incredibly confident. She knows she can perform and truly believes in herself,” Watkins said. “She is explosive on the field and has a great range.”

Boaz’s competitive nature has helped her team have an amazing season. She expressed that she is grateful and humbled by fans and supporters of BYU women’s soccer, but she also wants them to know that she is just like them.

“I think having priorities is important, so many get wrapped up because I’m a soccer star and some feel that’s what makes you important, but what really makes you important is who you are to the Lord,” Boaz said. “The biggest thing is that I’d give up soccer over and over again to put the Lord first. That’s what makes you feel whole, that’s what brings you happiness and the most joy.”

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