One of America's Finest
Nov. 10, 2005
NACOGDOCHES - The month of August brings with it an annual ritual that takes place on campuses nationwide. Student-Athletes have begun reporting to fall camp in preparation for the 2005 season. Fall camp means two-a-day practices, which conjures up thoughts of early morning conditioning, and long practices in the hot sun. But junior linebacker Kenneth Boley, Jr., might be one of the few athletes in the country who is actually looking forward to two-a-day practices, because not even the east Texas heat in mid-August can compare to some of his past experiences.
Boley spent seven years serving his country as a member of both the United States Army and the US National Guard during which time he was sent to Afghanistan as a part of Operation Enduring Freedom. Boley has friends who he knows would love to trade just one day to be part of a collegiate football team.
"You might hear guys say `I wish I didn't have to be out here practicing right now,'" said Boley. "But I can guarantee you that there are a lot worse places to be in the middle of summer. It's just in your mind and you have to suck it up and get the job done. If you don't want to play then why show up. A lot of my friends in the military would love to have the opportunity that we have to play football."
Boley's journey into the military came about out of respect for his parents after his plans to attend Cumberland University fell through.
"It wasn't something that I had planned on doing," said Boley. "I was supposed to go to school at Cumberland University on scholarship, but I wasn't going to be receiving as much aid as I originally thought. That would have left my parents to pay for my college and I didn't want them to have to do that. It was their money, not mine. I was an adult so I decided to do something for myself and joined the army."
Despite the initial shock from his family, Boley followed through with his plan to provide for himself and spent three years in active duty with the army, followed by a four-year stint with the National Guard. And now that plan has come full circle with Boley back on the gridiron. After two years in Hattiesburg, Miss., to play alongside his brother, Michael, Kenneth has come to Nacogdoches as one of 10 NCAA Division I-A transfers to add experience to a youthful Lumberjack squad.
"My dream was to always play football with my brother," said Boley. "It didn't matter where I went or where he went we were going to play on the same field."
Despite the fact the `Jacks' season-opener isn't for another three weeks, Kenneth Boley has already given fans, on both sides of the ball, plenty of reasons to stand up and cheer.