Boyce forging her own path on gridiron
Maycee Boyce is a girl playing football for Nedrose.
Let’s get the ‘girl playing football’ thing out of the way upfront, because it’s the least interesting thing about her.
Instead, let’s focus on Boyce’s love of the game and how she’s overcome adversity to become a valued member as a freshman in the Cardinals’ football program and an inspiration to younger players, some of whom happen to also be female.
Boyce first showed interested in football as a young child, enjoying watching it on television with cousins. In the Boyce household, there was a division between Vikings and Packers fans, but young Maycee decided to choose a different team to root for: the Los Angeles Rams.
“She got caught up in the excitement of picking favorite teams,” said her father, Joren Boyce. “She decided to be a Rams fan completely against the grain, and of course there weren’t many around at the time. At any rate, she upheld the stick all by herself if you will.”
In 2016, the Broncos won the Super Bowl, leading to a change of heart for the eight-year-old.
“I switched to being a Denver Broncos fan, and then they’ve done really bad the rest of the time,” said Boyce.
“She wasn’t getting much support on the deal,” said her dad. “So, in the middle of the game, she changed over to be a Broncos fan, and about that time the Rams did well the year after she gave up on them, so all these years later, she’s still trying to live that down.”
Around that time, she started playing football with her friends at recess. This led her mom to sign her up for the youth football program at the YMCA, where the younger Boyce spent Saturday mornings playing football.
“I just liked watching it,” said Boyce before offering another reason she liked the game. “I liked hitting people and I just like beating my sisters up, so there’s a natural fit.”
When she reached junior high school, she continued on with the game at Nedrose. There, she moved from the offensive and defensive lines to also playing wide receiver and linebacker, her favorite position.
“I like being able to go make tackles too and not just have to block someone,” said Boyce. “I still have the freedom to go in the backfield, and I can also blitz up the middle.”
In seventh grade, Boyce played backup quarterback, and she was on track to play more of the position in the eighth grade until she tore her ACL and meniscus in August of that year.
“That was tough,” said her father. “She was setting up to play some quarterback at the time, and it was really an emotional setback because for the first time she realized that her setback was something she couldn’t control.”
During her long recovery, Boyce spent time analyzing herself and what she could control, leading her to home in on weight training.
“It was right at the beginning of the school year, and I was in a wheelchair,” said Boyce. “It was not fun, and it really discouraged me from playing sports. However, I was still able to lift my upper body and that just really got me into weightlifting.”
She learned how important physical conditioning and nutrition was, and she continued researching ways to improve those.
Her father has been a major figure in dirt track racing, and together they sat down and charted out the different things that athletes do to stay disciplined.
“As far as Tina [Maycee’s mom] and I go, we don’t push anything. Everything she’s doing is her idea, and as parents, we’re excited to see that self-determination,” said J. Boyce.
Her drive and determination have caught the eye of her coaches and teammates.
“She does a great job for us,” said Nedrose head coach Tommy Weidler. “She’s smart. She understands her job, and she picks up on everything really quickly. Everything we are coaching her to do, she’s always given her best effort to do what’s coached. She does a great job for us.”
Burke grew up playing the sport with her friends and teammates, which has eased the impact of her gender. According to nearly everyone involved, it’s a non-issue for the team.
“We treat her just like she’s anyone else on the team, and we just keep plugging away,” said Weidler.
“I feel like I’m pretty accepted. I don’t think they [her teammates] find it too weird,” said Boyce before she added, “I just think the team is really good about not being weird that I’m playing. It’s definitely a weird feeling, and sometimes I feel like super out of place, but they’re good at welcoming me and that makes me really enjoy the sport more.”
When the season ends, Boyce is thinking about moving from the basketball court to the wrestling mat, as she thinks it looks like fun. She also competes in throwing events for the track and field team, while spending a lot of time in the weight room.
“She works hard. She lifts,” said Weidler. “She’s in the weight room during the summer, and she does everything she can to make her a better athlete. And I think kids will follow that. That’s a good leadership quality for others to follow.”