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Boles leads by example, fulfills dream of playing college sports

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By Kristin Beck

Trey Boles is quiet, but he is a leader.

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If you are looking for someone to stand up in front of the team and give a motivating speech, it probably won’t be him. But if you listen closely, you might hear him offering encouraging words to a teammate on the bench.

You will not hear him being loud and upset, arguing about “terrible calls” with the referee or umpire. No, the only thing you will hear is him cheering for his teammates – both in English and in his made-up Indian chants from the dugout.

He will give it his all — day in and day out. He will lead by example by doing things the right way, and he will be a role model for his fellow teammates as well as for the youth in the community. If you are looking for someone like that, Trey Boles is your man.

When the boys basketball team lost one of its best players to injury midway through the season, it appeared that the season would be lost as well. Instead, Boles stepped out of his comfort zone and took charge of the team, elevating his game to a level that has allowed him to fulfill his childhood dream of playing college sports.

At the same time, he is a steady leader on the baseball team and in the community, while still maintaining a 3.95 GPA.

For these reasons and more, Boles has been named the 2013 Male Student-Athlete of the Year, an award presented by The News-Democrat and sponsored by Earl Floyd Ford.

“I’m very honored,” Boles said in an interview May 17. “I didn’t realize it until today that there were a lot of candidates and that they all were deserving of it, but I’m glad that I got it. It’s just a good honor to have.”

A 2013 graduate, Boles was nominated for the award by both basketball and baseball head coaches Carroll Yager and Jimmy Ray, respectively. A captain on both teams, Boles was the leading scorer and rebounder on the basketball team and a starter at either the pitcher’s mound or shortstop for the baseball team.

In basketball, he was named NCKC Player of the Week twice and was named to the NCKC All-Conference Team, the Class A 8th Region All-Tournament Team and the 31st District All-Tournament Team.

His dad, Duke, taught him to play both baseball and basketball at a young age, and he always favored baseball until high school. It was then that he realized he was better at basketball and had a greater chance of playing the sport in college, a lifelong dream.

Boles spent summers in the gym, shooting and running through dribbling drills, as well as participating in the team’s summer league games. But he also credits the time spent with his brothers, Brett and Cody, as keys to his success.

“My brothers would come to the gym with me and I could compete against them,” he said. “We’ve always said that is why I’ve been one of the better ones my whole life is because I’ve played against my brothers, and they’ve always pushed me to be better.”

When it came time to pick a college, Boles also found a career path through both his brother Cody, who studied athletic training at Georgetown College, and his dad, a physical therapist who now teaches science at Carroll County High School. 

“All of my siblings have been active in sports and whenever we have gotten hurt, he’d been the one to diagnose us,” Boles said of his dad. “We don’t have to go out to a doctor or anything. If anything hurts, he’ll just be able to look at us and feel something and he’ll tell us what is wrong and what we need to do. I’ve always found that very fascinating; that is pretty cool.”

Boles said he took sports medicine and anatomy in high school and realized he had found his calling. “I like to be able to diagnose an injury and be able to heal that,” he said. “Through sports, I try to assess injuries myself. If my arm hurts or anything, I try to assess it myself and see what I can do, and I like being able to have that knowledge of the body.”

Once he decided on a career path, Boles looked for a college that offered an athletic training program and a place where he could make an impact on the basketball team. 

“I talked to several colleges, but I had it narrowed down to Mt. St. Joseph and Franklin College, and I made my decision and went with Franklin,” he said. “Bret played baseball, Cody played football and I’ll complete the trifecta and play basketball, and that’s something I think will be pretty cool.”

Boles broke out of his shell senior year and took his game to the next level, especially after his teammate and one of his best friends, Dallas Gibson, went down with a season-ending knee injury.

“I was always being told by all the coaches that I wasn’t taking enough shots or I was being a little too unselfish, which isn’t something players hear much,” he said. “Then once Dallas got hurt, I realized I really did need to pick up the scoring and the team really did depend on me. And after a couple games, I realized I could do it, that I could pick up the slack that the team needed so we could still be successful without one of our best players.”

Boles averaged 15.8 points and 6.9 rebounds per game this season, up from 9.8 points and 4.7 rebounds per game last season. He was named the team’s Most Outstanding Player and led the team in points, rebounds, 3-point field goals and 2-point field goal percentage.

When asked if Gibson’s injury helped propel him to fulfill his dream of playing college sports, Boles said it could have been a blessing in disguise. “It helped me come out and score more and be more confident in myself,” he said. “I would never wish that on Dallas, but I’m glad that I could step up and increase my scoring percentage and still help the team have a successful season.”

“He elevated his game and really demonstrated leadership throughout the 2012-13 season,” Yager said in his nomination. “Although the team was faced with several obstacles to overcome, Trey never swayed from the goals we had set as a team and did everything in his power to be a great team leader.”

Throughout his career, Boles also has been one of the program’s most durable players. He has missed only two varsity games in his entire career. He sprained his ankle freshman year during a freshman game and missed the JV and varsity game that night and then the next scheduled varsity game.

“Trey represents everything that a coach wants in a player,” Yager said. “He excels in the classroom and in sports. He comes to practice and games every day, ready to give the absolute most that he has. Over the four years that I have coached Trey, I can never remember him ever demonstrating anything but the most positive attitude and work ethic. His work ethic has allowed him to put himself in position to play college basketball.”

At the beginning of the baseball season, head coach Ray asked his players to write down how they wanted to be perceived by their teammates.

“Some put things like being a good hitter, pitcher, etc. Not Trey,” Ray said in his nomination. “His answer was to be a devoted, hard-working Christian man. I cannot count the number of times I have used Trey as a positive example for teams I coach and for my own kids.”

Ray has a son who is a freshman at the high school and played both basketball and baseball alongside Boles. “I told him if he wanted to learn to do things the right way and have a role model, there is not a better person than Trey Boles,” he wrote. “I think one of the highest praises you can give someone is that you wish for your child to be like them, and I feel that way about Trey.”

Boles credits his parents with helping him to learn how to balance school and sports. “They always tell me school is more important and that playing the sports is a privilege,” he said. “I have to get my grades in and if I had a bad grade in school, I knew I may not be allowed to practice that day or I might not be allowed to do something that night. But I never really got in trouble like that because I realized it myself that I had to take both of them seriously and the team depended on me as a leader to be both at the top of my game in basketball and in school. So I took it upon myself to do the best that I could in both.”

Boles took three Advanced Placement courses this year and was a Peer Tutor in his mom’s third-grade class. “Sometimes I just talk to them and have conversations with them,” he said. “Other times I have to work with them and get them to do tests. But I enjoy just being in their presence and joking around with them and having a good time.”

When he is not playing sports, Boles said he enjoys being outside and spending time with his friends. He also enjoys spending summers on his grandpa’s farm in Owensboro with his family.

He also was the president of Fellowship of Christian Athletes and attends Worthville Baptist Church. “FCA and church, they have helped me realize that (sports are) important but after all that, faith is still the most important thing, so win or lose, still praising God for everything.”