Bobcats’ Boland a fit for Nebraska Christian College

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE • Marshalltown High School senior Naomi Boland, seated center, signs her National Letter of Intent to play soccer at Nebraska Christian College in Papillion, Neb. With Boland for her signing ceremony are her parents, Mark and Karen, MHS assistant soccer coach Leigh Hornbuckle, standing at left, and MHS head coach Stacy Galema.

Naomi Boland had found what she wanted: a small, Christian college outside of Iowa with her educational pursuits and a women’s soccer program.

And then she had to find another one.

When Grace University in Omaha, Neb., announced in the fall that financial and enrollment issues were going to force the school to halt operations at the end of the academic year, Boland’s future plans were put on hold.

But with the closing of one door, another opened.

The Marshalltown High School senior found another opportunity a half hour down the road, and on Friday she signed to continue her education and play soccer at Nebraska Christian College.

Located in Papillion, a suburb on the southwest outskirts of Omaha, NCC offered everything Boland originally searched for.

“One of the assistant coaches from Grace told my mom there’s another school in Omaha I might like, we looked up Nebraska Christian College and talked to some people there,” said Naomi. “I found out that coach at Grace is going to be an assistant at NCC so we started talking and I went on a college visit.”

Boland found the small-school atmosphere she was looking for, a Bible-based education with her intended major, and a soccer squad eager for a new teammate.

“It was really, really small, someplace easy for me to get around and get used to,” she said, “and when I realized they had a soccer program I was like, ‘OK, that’s a great fit for me.’

“I want to play soccer and they had early childhood elementary teacher, and I said, ‘I want to go there, it’s perfect.'”

Naomi has four older sisters and an older brother, and three of them are currently playing soccer in college. Jordyn and Ashtyn are both out of school, Ruth plays at Hawkeye Community College in Waterloo, while Ellyn and John both compete for the University of Northwestern in St. Paul, Minn.

“I’ve been playing soccer since I first came to America and it’s always been my passion,” Naomi said. “I love the sport and meeting new people and interacting with new teammates and coaches. I’ve always had a hard desire for soccer.”

Naomi still has her senior season of soccer to play as a Bobcat, but getting her future in order was something she wanted to do prior to her last spring in Marshalltown. In her three previous seasons, she has accumulated one goal and one assist.

“There’s a lot of stuff we can work on individually,” said MHS head coach Stacy Galema. “Whether it’s footwork or passing or shot selection, it’s paying attention to the basics so you can get those down and work from there.

“[For Naomi], I’d probably say being more consistent at being aggressive. I know there’s times when if Naomi’s going to go for the ball she’s going to win the ball because she wants it that bad, so it’s always having that energy and that drive to go and keep that up throughout the entire time you’re on the field.

“We’re going to try to put her in a couple different positions — she can play offensively or defensively, she can play inside, she can play outside — and we’ll try to find with this team where she can best fit and best be an asset.”