Erin Boley adds fuel to her fire
When Erin Boley goes to a restaurant, her teammates start guessing what she'll order.
The house salad is usually a pretty safe bet.
"Erin eats incredibly healthy," said guard Rachel Warden, Boley's teammate at national powerhouse Elizabethtown (Ky.). "You can bet she will never order cake."
Boley, a 6-foot-2 forward and the No. 8 prospect in the espnW HoopGurlzTerrific 25 for the 2016 class, said she used to eat a lot of fast food. Up until two years ago, that is, when she started working with personal trainer Sascha Teems, who motivated her to eat better.
"I'm just making better choices now," the 16-year-old Boley said. "Instead of eating simple carbs like bread, I order brown rice. ... I've just learned how to fuel my body better, and now I can last longer on the court without getting tired."
Which is a nightmare for opponents.
Last season as a sophomore, Boley was named Kentucky's Gatorade player of the year after averaging 20.2 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.1 steals and leading Elizabethtown to the state title game. She shot 53.8 percent from the floor, including 42.4 percent on 3-pointers, and made 84.6 percent from the foul line.
In addition to her diet, there's another reason she's so good, Elizabethtown coach Tim Mudd said.
"I've been a head coach for 21 years, and I've never seen a player with her work ethic," he said. "She's an excellent practice player. But when our team practice is over, that's when she really goes to work on her individual skills.
"You either have that desire to work hard or you don't. And she certainly has it."
David Tapley, one of her AAU coaches with Kentucky Premier, also listed effort as Boley's biggest attribute.
"A lot of kids dream about playing college or pro basketball," Tapley said. "But when they figure out how hard you have to work to get there, most of them quit.
"But Erin gives full effort on every drill. She expects to win every time she steps on the court. She will be a winner at whatever she does in life. There are not a lot of people like Erin."
Boley's talents don't end on the basketball court. She also has a 4.0 GPA and was the vice president of her sophomore class.
Given her talent, her height, her grades and her work ethic, it's no wonder she has scored numerous scholarship offers from major colleges.
Boley recently cut her list to seven schools: Connecticut, Kentucky, Louisville, Notre Dame, Stanford, Tennessee and Vanderbilt.
It's an impressive list, but Boley is not one to brag about the opportunities that are coming her way.
In fact, when Warden found out that UConn had offered a scholarship, that information didn't come from Boley.
"My mother told me," Warden said. "And when I asked Erin if it was true, she just whispered, 'Yes.' "
Boley, the oldest of three kids, comes from an athletic family.
Her father, Scott, was a 6-9 small forward for Western Kentucky University, specializing in perimeter shooting.
Boley's mother, Mary Beth, was a pretty good player, too, competing as a 5-11 forward for LaRue County High School (Hodgenville, Ky.).
Both of her parents have taught her and her two brothers the game. They are never shy about offering constructive criticism.
"They see different things when I play," Boley said. "So after games, I get it from both sides. They both get on me about things I need to improve.
"I listen to them a lot better now than I used to, and they have gotten better about not criticizing everything I do on the court, just the main points."
In truth, Boley's accomplishments leave very little room for criticism. After all, she has been playing varsity ball since seventh grade, became a starter a year later and last season led Elizabethtown to a 32-5 record.
The only true disappointment came in that 49-38 loss to Butler (Louisville) in the state final. Elizabethtown was ranked No. 1 in the state, and Butler was No. 2, and more than 4,000 fans showed up in Bowling Green, Ky., to watch the matchup.
After two Boley free throws with 5:27 left in the game, Elizabethtown trailed 39-38. But Butler then scored the final 10 points.
"We had a great year," Boley said. "Of course, we were really upset about [that] outcome because we had gotten so far."
Boley finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds. And even though she didn't mention it when asked about the game, Mudd said Boley was playing hurt.
"In the first quarter, Erin got her pinky finger caught in a jersey and dislocated it," said Mudd, whose team returns all five starters for next season. "She kept on playing, and that showed her toughness.
"We taped it up so she wouldn't have to look at it because it was nasty looking."
A full plate
That must have been a lovely sight for UConn coach Geno Auriemma, who watched the title game in person. Despite the personal attention, Boley says she's not ready to make a commitment to UConn or any other school. She's hoping to decide by next summer.
Similarly, Boley won't rush into a decision into what she wants to study. She is entering her fifth year of taking Spanish and can read and write the language but is lacking, she said, in conversational skills.
"There are so many things that interest me," Boley said. "I'm taking my time to figure it out. But I like reading and learning, and I like to draw and be creative."
Boley puts her artistic talents to use at least once a week during the school year, when she volunteers at an after-school program and teaches at-risk kids how to draw.
"All the kids I work with love art just like I do," she said. "I love spending time with them because they have so much fun with the lessons I give them."
What Boley is hoping to draw up next is Elizabethtown's first state title since 1998. She is optimistic it will happen this season.
"We have a lot of motivation," she said. "I have no doubt this season will be even better than last year."