Boyle Caps Aggie Career With Athena Award
Brigid Boyle remembers the first time she was on a basketball court. While her father, Jeff, was playing in a game, Brigid, age two or three was amusing herself with her own ball. At one point, the ball squirted out of her hands and she instinctively ran on the court to retrieve it.
Thus began an odyssey that has seen her on a court with a ball ever since.
The Saint Agnes senior recently finished a stellar athletic career as a volleyball and basketball player. She served as a Middle and Outside Hitter in the former sport. “I enjoyed playing volleyball with the jumping and timing involved,” she said. In the latter sport, she is second all-time among Aggie girls in scoring, just 43 behind 2018 Aggie grad K’Lynn Lewis with 1,439 points. That point total ranks fourth among all Aggie court sharpshooters.
For her efforts, Boyle has been named the Aggie recipient of the Athena Award. She will join the other St. Paul area winners at a ceremony on April 21. Now in its 27th year, the Athena Award honors female athletes for their dedication and excellence in sports.
The Minnesota Coaches Association took notice of Boyle and named her Honorable Mention on the All State team for Class AA for 2021.
None of which surprised Sam Thompson, who was her head coach this season. “Brigid has a very high basketball IQ,” Thompson said. “She was a nightmare for other teams because she can shoot from the outside and can also guard a point guard.”
That may be because Brigid has experience playing both positions. “I was very little when I started playing in first grade,” she recalled. “I stayed in the back until I had a growth spurt in about eighth grade. I then moved to the post spot.” By that time, she was on the JV team at Saint Agnes. Later that same season, she was promoted to the varsity level, scoring her first points in a game against Cristo Rey. (Ironically, she scored her 1000th career point against the same school.)
Thompson had watched Boyle from the stands for several years before taking over the reins of the girls’ team this past season. “I was blown away by her integrity and humility,” he said. “She was the hardest worker in practice.”
That process included occasionally being double and tripled teamed. Despite that fact, she averaged 19.2 points and 5.8 rebounds per game as a senior. She had eight games of 20 plus points with a season high of 29 in a 62-54 victory over St. Croix Prep on January 22. “Her competitiveness takes over when she is the court,” Thompson said.
“I enjoy the comradery and the intensity of the game,” Boyle said. “It’s rewarding and refreshing.”
That drive may have come from years of backyard games with her sisters Kiara, a junior at Saint Agnes, Angelica, an eighth grader on the varsity team and Gabrielle, a seventh grader. Her mother, Kate, is the director of Alumni Relations at the school. The drive to play continues in the off season and Boyle can often be found in the Aggie gym shooting and working on her game. “I hate taking time off,” she said.
The pandemic that shut down so many outlets forced Brigid to become creative to stay sharp and in shape. “I hate running,” she laughed. “I did a lot of dribbling in the garage.”
A 5-11 forward who can dribble and shoot from anywhere is a valuable commodity on a court. As such, Brigid drew the attention of several Division II and III schools. Wayne State, a member of the DII Northern Sun Conference, caught her attention early. After seeing her is a showcase league before her junior year at Saint Agnes, they started recruiting Brigid intensely. “I liked the community feel of the small city,” she said. (Wayne, Nebraska has slightly over 5,500 residents. The school has an undergraduate enrollment of 2,754).
Boyle and Thompson both acknowledge what needs to be done to prep for basketball on a bigger stage next year. “I need to work on my strength and speed,” she said. For his part, Thompson agreed, adding “She needs to get stronger. When she does, the rest of it will come to her. She is very coachable.”
Boyle is still deciding what she will major in at Wayne State with biology one of the current options. She also has interest in being a physical therapist.
But that is a couple of months down the road. For now, Boyle can be found in the gym either shooting herself or working with others. “She spent a lot of Saturdays helping out fourth and sixth graders and working at summer camps,” Thompson said.
As she nears the end of her time at Saint Agnes, Boyle is grateful for the relationships she made on and off the court. “I was super shy when I was in eighth grade,” she recalled. Playing sports helped change all that for the better, a fact that helped Boyle – and Saint Agnes – at the same time.