A-K Valley Senior Spotlight: Freeport’s Akina Boynton
Monday, February 6, 2023 | 1:29 PM
Nov. 9 was a very special day for many athletes: the opening of the national letter of intent signing period. Freeport senior Akina Boynton joined the fun Jan. 10, agreeing to play soccer at Chatham.
“I love the fact that Chatham has a great psychology and art program,” Boynton said. “It was a perfect fit, and soccer came along with it. It’s a great and competitive program, and I love the coach.”
Akina is the daughter of Jessica and David Boynton. She was a four-year starter, a four-year all-section selection at forward and co-captain this past season. She’s been playing soccer for 14 years.
“I started out as a cheerleader but quit at age 6,” Boynton said. “I chose soccer because I didn’t want to do a ‘girly’ thing. Even though my mom wanted me to cheer, I wanted to run around and play soccer with my friends.”
Boynton took some time out of her busy schedule to sit down and answer a few questions about her recent college decision and reflect on her years playing soccer at Freeport:
What were you looking for in a college when you were going through the recruiting process?
The first thing was divisions. I knew I didn’t want to play Division I because I wanted to focus on my career. That’s a huge reason as to why I was looking for Division III rather than any higher division. I was also looking for a team that had a good record and a coach that was happy and willing to have me based on my playing.
Tell me a little bit about your freshman year at Freeport.
It was my favorite season by far. I think it is so cool that I got the chance to start as a freshman. A bunch of other freshmen started, too, and that’s how I knew we would have a great senior season. In our quarterfinals matchup, I remember Sidney Shemanski kicked a penalty kick and that led to the score going back and forth until the last 23 seconds when she scored a goal and we won. I will always remember that moment. Even though we lost in the next round, it was a great experience for us, individually and as a team.
Why did you choose to stay closer to home?
I love the fact that if I ever get overwhelmed or homesick that I can come home to a safe space. I am very close with my family, and I didn’t feel that I was ready to be far away from them yet. Even though I’ll be at college and independent, I’ll always come back home.
Tell me a little bit about your choice in major and minor.
I chose to major in psychology and minor in art. I love talking to people, and I’ve always been a people person. If I can change someone’s life just by talking to them, that’s amazing for me. Art has always been a huge part of my life. My dad’s parents were artists and growing up. We always drew together. I grew my own love for it, and it’s therapeutic to me. I want to maybe go into art therapy. My outlet is art, and maybe others feel the same way.
Tell me a little bit about the recruiting process for you.
My junior year, I was set on Penn State (Behrend). It is a great school and I like the coach, but when I looked at it, I really just wanted to go for soccer. I wasn’t really thinking about the schooling part, and the biggest reason why anyone goes to college is to get a career out of it. PSU Behrend didn’t have any art majors or minors or really anything art. I didn’t want to leave art out of the picture, so I switched up my decision. That is one of the biggest mistakes I made when looking at colleges.
What advice do you have for any athlete wanting to be recognized by colleges?
Twitter is your best friend. Upload your highlights there, and email the coaches. Personally, I don’t have Instagram and I know people can get recruited there. But email the coaches and speak your mind on how passionate you are about their program and how interested you are in it. Hopefully, they will get back to you and keep contact with them. Also, ask them to go to games of yours. The biggest thing is to have them see you play in person rather than through highlights.
What advice do you have for someone going through the recruiting process?
First, look at the school you want to go to for academics and stick to what you want to do academic-wise. Then the sport follows. After four years of collegiate athletics, you may never play again unless you go pro. You won’t ever have the chance to turn back time and change your initial decision. Second, find a team and coach that fits you best. Go on college visits, talk to the coaches, look at the majors and minors the college or university offers. All in all, academics before the sport.
What is one thing people may not know about you?
I have been wearing the same shin guards for all four years of high school soccer. They are very nasty, but they are my lucky ones. I also wear pre-wrap in my hair and if I do good with that specific wrap, I’ll wear the same wrap until I do bad. I do best with light blue, I think. Oh, and I own 20 plants and they’re in my room. I’m a huge plant nerd, and I want to incorporate botany into what I do at Chatham.
What is one piece of advice you’d like to leave with your teammates?
Don’t make soccer more serious than it has to be. Have fun, then you’ll do great things. If I’m not focused, then I do bad. Make sure that you love what you are doing. Look for things you like about the sport and focus on that, whether that is the love for the game, the friends you make or something else. Make it a fun thing for yourself.
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