Favorite athlete: Elena Romesburg (JMU Women’s Lacrosse), Michael Jordan
Favorite team: 2008 Phillies Team
Favorite memories competing in sports: Going 18-0 with my field hockey team in the regular season my junior year, big upset win against CB South in field hockey (freshman year), wins over Springfield-Delco in lacrosse (junior year) and Unionville in field hockey (senior year).
Most embarrassing/funniest thing that has happened while competing in sports: Dani Dundas getting on the CB East boys’ soccer bus and doing the “Strap in” cheer.
Music on iPod: Everything but classical
Future plans: Go to school and play field hockey at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.
Words to live by: “If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough.”
One goal before turning 30: Figure out what I want to do with my life…
One thing people don’t know about me: I’ve been to over 15 countries.
By Mary Jane Souder
A rare breed.
It’s a phrase Central Bucks West lacrosse coach Tara Schmucker used to describe Bryn Boylan, and it’s certainly an appropriate description of the recent West graduate who earned All-American and Academic All-American honors in lacrosse and All-State recognition in field hockey.
“She’s a rare breed for so many reasons,” Schmucker said. “She’s obviously a very talented player, but she’s also an exceptional student.
“She’s a practice player, which you don’t always see from the top players. She’s always putting in the effort at practice. She’s working on things on her own, and she’s just a very humble kid. For someone that talented, that’s certainly very rare and not something I’ve seen in my years of coaching.”
Boylan is a remarkable student-athlete who has – without fanfare – starred in lacrosse and field hockey. A four-year starter in both sports, Boylan was part of three conference championship squads – two in lacrosse and one in field hockey, and during her four years, the two teams combined to win 173 games.
A four-time first team all-league selection in lacrosse, she was the PASLA SOL National Conference MVP as both a junior and senior. In field hockey, she closed out her career with 69 goals and was team MVP for the district runner-up Bucks last fall.
But numbers and accolades don’t begin to tell the story of Boylan’s contributions.
“She’s just special all around,” West field hockey coach Courtney Lepping said. “There’s no one who can replicate or be the kind of person she was to our team from her freshman year on.
“She was someone who came in willing to work, willing to listen and just made everyone around her better as she herself improved, which was really amazing just seeing how she grew as a player. Her skill was just out of this world.”
When it came time to choose a sport to play in college, Boylan had plenty of options with some of the nation’s best programs vying for her talents. She chose to accept a hockey scholarship to perennial national power North Carolina over ACC rival Maryland. Princeton – which recruited her for lacrosse - was the third finalist.
Boylan admits it’s a storybook ending that she couldn’t have imagined.
“If you had told me freshman year that I’d be looking at UNC, I probably would have laughed and said, ‘Are you serious?’” she said. “I gained a lot of confidence from my high school seasons and how well our team has done and how well I did.
“Training with the US Indoor (National) team really helped me grow a lot as a player.”
Early on, there was nothing to suggest that field hockey would be Boylan’s sport of choice. Soccer and basketball were the first sports she played competitively. She also played some softball. Basketball, it turns out, was a family affair.
“My grandpa (Neil Boylan) actually coached my dad when he was in high school,” said Bryn, whose father, Doug Boylan, coached her DAA squad. “My dad’s senior year, there’s a video – my dad made a free throw at the end of the game that was the game winner. You see my grandpa shaking the other guy’s hand and then going over and celebrating with the team.”
Neil Boylan coached softball at West as well, but softball, soccer and basketball just didn’t quite work for Boylan, and on a trip to Sports Authority with her mother, she stumbled upon a new sport.
“We saw little fiddle sticks, and I was like, ‘Oh, that looks like a fun game,’” Boylan recalled. “My mom said, ‘Let’s buy it. You can try out the sport.’
“I started with DAA, and I played my first year with fiddle sticks, which is a guy’s stick. They told me after the season – ‘If you’re going to keep playing, you should probably get a girls’ stick because it’s illegal.’ I think it helped my stick skills in the long run because it was really easy to catch. Then I had to go to the girls’ flat stick, and I had to adjust to that.”
In lacrosse, Boylan had found a sport she would grow to love. A year later, her mother signed her up for field hockey.
“She said, ‘Oh yeah, it’s just like lacrosse. You’ll love it,’” Boylan said.
That wasn’t exactly the case for the second grader.
“I wasn’t a morning person as a kid, and I’m still not,” said Boylan. “She got me up at seven or eight, and we’re driving over to Lenape for my first session at DAA, and I just started crying.
“I didn’t want to get out of the car, I didn’t want to learn a new sport. I said, ‘This doesn’t even look like lacrosse. Look at the stick – how do you do this?’ I wasn’t sure if I was going to keep playing, but I did.”
By the time Boylan entered high school, she excelled in both sports.
“As a freshman, she was confident and very skilled, and she took on a role – ‘Okay, I’m going to do whatever it takes to win,’” Lepping said. “She could and would do everything.”
Making the transition to high school seamless was the fact that Boylan got her feet wet before fall practices began.
“When I was an eighth grader, my parents encouraged me to go to the offseason practices, and I wanted to,” she said. “That’s where I met Elena Romesburg and Jacq Fitzgerald, and they were so welcoming to me.
“They were such good friends to me when I was a little eighth grader. Immediately, they were like, ‘Hey, come join our shuttle.’ We were really close after that. They’ve been my biggest inspiration in both field hockey and lacrosse. I’m really thankful to have played with them. They’ve just been so great, and they’ve given me a lot of good advice about high school sports and college sports. I think they’ve been my biggest mentors.”
Boylan competed on the club level for both sports, playing for Ultimate Lacrosse and FSC Field Hockey.
“In all the years I’ve been coaching, there have been few players where I’ve said, ‘I don’t know how we’ll replace her,’ and she’s definitely one of them,” Schmucker said. “Partly because of her talent, but she just does so much on the field
In field hockey, Boylan was a three-time first team honoree and earned a spot on the U.S. Women’s Indoor National Team.
“Lots of kids are developing skills and have all of these incredible abilities,” Lepping said. “What made Bryn different was she understood when to use one-on-one skills, she knew when to make those perfect passes, she knew when to take the shots.
“It was just the timing of her skill use, something that is hard to teach or takes a lot of time to teach someone – it just really came easily to her, and that’s what separated her from other people who are very skilled. She just knew – now I have to go coast to coast, now I have to take that shot. She just knew the timing, and she used the right timing.”
Choosing between the two sports was no easy task.
“I was really torn because all throughout playing sports, people kept asking, ‘Which do you like better?’ and I would answer whichever season I was in,’” Boylan said. “It was kind of stressful, but it did provide me a lot of opportunities and choices, and I’m thankful for that.
“It kind of came down to the school itself since I love both sports.”
UNC felt like the right choice for Boylan.
“Throughout the visit, it just felt really natural to me and was something I wanted to be a part of,” Boylan said. “Everyone was so welcoming.
“My last couple of schools, the coaches were so respectable. Coach (Karen) Shelton is so great, and the other coaches were really awesome. The girls were welcoming, and they’re also really impressive with how good they are, and I just thought I wanted to be a part of it.”
If skill was the only factor in the equation, Boylan would be at the head of the class in both sports, but it’s much more than that.
“People at her level – most of the time you see girls that are somewhat arrogant or cocky,” Schmucker said. “Bryn is kind of a quiet presence, but her actions speak louder than words. She’s definitely been a leader for us and has really been a leader by example and how hard that she works.
“She had a great combination – she’s serious when she needs to be, but she can be silly and she can be funny. She has a nice wit about her. There’s not a teammate that doesn’t respect her and look up to her.
“She has always done what’s best for the team, not necessarily what’s best for her. There have been times as coaches we have said to her, ‘You could have taken that defender very easily,’ but she’s chosen to make a pass or give it up to someone else and not take it. There are many things younger players can look up to her for.”
Lepping echoed similar sentiments.
“Bryn had that quiet intensity that kids saw and respected,” the Bucks’ hockey coach said. “She had a neat personality that people just enjoyed.
“People just loved talking to her, being around her, joking with her.”
Boylan also excelled in the classroom. An honors student, she is undecided on a major but has ruled out following in the footsteps of her parents – Angela and Doug Boylan, both of whom are medical doctors.
“Their schedules are really crazy,” she said. “They’ve been great with it. Even while they’ve been so busy, they’ve been really supportive, but it’s not something I would want to do.
“Originally, I was thinking language and businesses. Right now I’m kind of open.”
Boylan – who is already in Chapel Hill – leaves West with the best kind of memories.
“It was so special to me,” she said. “Meeting all these people on my own team and even at other schools has been so great.
“I don’t know what I would do without having played West sports. It’s just been a lot of fun. Even as an underclassman, it helps you adjust to school itself, it helps make you more comfortable with people. It’s just been so great. We’ve had ups and downs like any team, but it’s been really fun, really great.”