Paul Floeckher 2017-07-27 21:13:40
Sisters face challenges together as teammates Kennesaw State senior Anaiah Boyer has mixed emotions as she looks ahead to her final season playing volleyball alongside her twin sister, Amariah. “It has been a pleasure to play for this University and to be able to play with my best friend,” Anaiah said. “As much as I’m excited for the upcoming season, I’m sad that it’s my last one.” On the other hand, the Boyer sisters are happy to have any time on the volleyball court together. That was far from certain after Amariah was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis just as her freshman year at Kennesaw State was starting. “It has been a journey, so it’s awesome just to get to this point that you never thought you would,” Amariah said. “It’s a blessing.” “She is dealing with a very serious thing and is doing something that very few people have done,” said Kennesaw State head coach Keith Schunzel. “There are times when I think, ‘This is incredible what she’s doing.’” Anaiah and Amariah have been playing volleyball together since they were 8 years old. The twins thought about going separate ways for college, but that changed when they visited Kennesaw State and both fell in love with the school. They live together on campus. But for sisters who have so much in common, something was different about Amariah during their very first practice with the Owls volleyball team. She felt a tingling sensation in her hands and feet, and her typical agility had abandoned her. “It’s like I was moving in sand,” Amariah recalled. Amariah’s condition continued to worsen. She needed Anaiah’s help to get dressed and eat breakfast each morning, and she held her sister’s arm to walk from their apartment to class. Following several doctor visits, Amariah was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. The central nervous system disease disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. Soon after the diagnosis, Amariah received a series of three steroid shots and began to feel better. She takes a daily dose of the medication teriflunomide to manage the MS as much as possible. “The disease is unpredictable, so I could be fine today but not tomorrow,” Amariah said. “At times, I felt like the diagnosis was a defeat.” While Amariah’s first volleyball season at KSU was cut short after just one practice, she remained a part of the team. She watched as Anaiah flourished, earning a spot on the Atlantic Sun Conference All-Freshman Team. “Standing on the sidelines freshman year and seeing her compete every night, I wanted to reach that,” Amariah said. “I wanted to get back on the court with her. Even if it wasn’t playing on the court with her, I wanted to be a part of this team with her.” The following spring, Amariah was medically cleared to start practicing. She kept pushing herself and made great strides at practice and in the weight room, touching 10 feet 2 inches in a vertical jump test and front-squatting 250 pounds. “I think it’s a testament to her and what she is willing to go through and put herself through,” Anaiah said. “I know that it can’t be easy. To me, it just means to be resilient, to power through and just stay at it.” After all the physical pain, all the doctor visits, all her hard work and all the uncertainty about her future, Amariah made her much-anticipated KSU debut in the fall of 2015. Her first collegiate match turned out even better than she imagined. With her mom cheering from the bleachers, Amariah recorded eight kills and seven blocks. Her eighth kill came on match point to clinch the Owls’ five-set victory in their ASUN Conference opener against USC Upstate. “When we put her in and her mom and fans in the stands were going nuts and her teammates were going nuts, I vividly remember thinking, ‘This is incredible,’” Schunzel said. “It was a goose-bump moment.” “Absolutely there was a time when I thought, ‘Maybe I do need to hang up the shoes and kneepads and just be done with it,’” Amariah said. “So just to be back on the court is like a dream come true.” The sisters have continued to be key contributors for the Owls – often side by side. Anaiah, an outside hitter, and Amariah, an opposite hitter, frequently are on the court at the same time, depending on which lineup Schunzel employs to match up best against the opponent. Now they will have one more year together as teammates and roommates. Anaiah will play her senior season as she completes her communications degree, while Amariah has two years of athletic eligibility remaining and is majoring in sports management. “For me to have two more years and for her to be at the end of the road, it’s bittersweet, but it’s been awesome,” Amariah said. “I think it’s just another stepping stone to where we’ll go in life, individually and collectively.” Anaiah has plenty of individual and team success to build on from her stellar junior season. She led the team with a career-high 376 kills and was named First-Team All-Conference as the Owls tied for the ASUN regular-season championship. “I just want to leave it all on the court, every game,” Anaiah said. “I have really enjoyed my time here. It’s really allowed me to grow as a player and, for sure, as a person. So I don’t want to look back and think, ‘Oh I should’ve done this or that.’ I’m just going to enjoy it.”
Published by Kennesaw State / Kennesaw State University Magazine. View All Articles.
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