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  • Aunyae Imani

Lonell Boyd Jr.; Faith & Football

Time spent with the Explosion Sports Flight Academy is always beneficial to an athlete’s game. No matter how long or short. Some of these scholar athletes are with the program for four years and others maybe just a year. In all cases though, these athletes leave with something they did not come in with. 23-year-old Lonell Boyd Jr. spent time with the flight academy for only one year. During that one year he was able to absorb everything he learned and apply it to his own form of playing the game. He also established meaningful relationships that will benefit for a lifetime. Boyd graduated from Christian Brothers College High School, attended Missouri State for one year, went onto Northeastern State for two years, and then finally found his stomping grounds in Iowa with Morningside University. 

Boyd gained experience with flight his senior year of highschool. The program helped him build confidence which led him to see the potential in himself. Flight academy is more than just a football program. The academy trains their athletes mentally as well as physically. The connection built with coaches, and teammates all plays a part into each athlete’s outlook on the game and on themselves. Boyd says, “The coaches understood us. The 7on7 games contributed to the camaraderie of the team. I was brought closer to athletes that had that drive and momentum for the game just like me. Everyone has each other’s back. Coach Trevor would always say, “We’re gonna do this together” and Coach Greg made sure that we would always have a chance. He would tell us “Don’t give up. If you feel you don’t have a chance, we will get you a chance, together”. The Flight academy program was one of the most important stages of Boyd’s life. He found a deeper brotherhood within football, he gained lifelong and valuable relationships, and he found a stronger sense for the game. 

Boyd’s introduction to football was new and exciting. This excitement he felt at the age of seven is what kept him going, “I fell in love with hitting people and I knew I wanted to keep playing because everything came easy.” Boyd was able to develop and adapt to the plays and the conditioning, and stayed consistent with it. Eventually though, his love for the contact sport turned on him. Boyd endured a major injury early into his youth career. At the age of twelve, Boyd got hit in the spine with a helmet during a football play and it left him paralyzed. This unforeseen paralysis took over Boyd’s life for about a year. He went through rehab and was back on the field in no time. Everything was going smoothly until 2019. A sophomore in college attending Northeastern State, first game of the season and Boyd encountered another injury. He was going for a tackle and the guy came down on his left arm, this then caused him to fall on that same arm and the double impact forced it to break. This unexpected injury cost Boyd the rest of the season. One thing athletes risk everyday when playing a sport is their body. Any injury is bound to end a player’s career and their mental state for the game. Boyd, however, used his faith to keep him strong during his recovery time. He knew he had many people around him that could uplift him and push him but he wanted to be strong on his own and for himself. “I lost my focus. All my energy was gone, my mentality went downhill, but I knew I had to figure out a plan and push myself through this obstacle. I began to pray more and lean on my spiritual foundation”, says Boyd. He found a way to take control and not let his injury control him and his mindset. Surgery, a four month recovery, and a metal plate were the effects Boyd encountered after his injury. “I kept my patience and trusted God through the whole process”. Like before, Boyd was back and better than ever. He went on to win the National Championship game in 2021 with Morningside University.

Lonell Boyd Jr. is currently attending Morningside University and studying psychology. He is in his final semester of school and plans to go on to obtain his Masters in Sports Psychology. Boyd feels secure in Iowa. He formed a lasting family connection with his teammates and this cultivated his desire for Sports Psychology. Boyd states, “I want to be a spokesperson for athletes and bring awareness that they are more than athletes. Me being a student athlete, helps me connect and understand them more.” There is a great deal of pressure that comes with being a student athlete. Boyd knows how extensive these conditions are and plans to use his degree to give athletes a chance to open up and help them understand that they are “More than athletes”. Higher expectations are put upon student athletes and Boyd is willing to help them learn how to not bottle it all in. 

To younger student athletes Boyd says, “Academics come first. You can be the best in football and the worst in the class. Build your faith and always be grateful for what you have. Try not to worry about what the next person has and you don’t. It can be worse. Comparison is the thief of joy. Never give up because you never want to live with regrets".


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