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Bright Boachie ’20 grew up playing soccer in Ghana. He transferred his skills from the soccer pitch to the football field as a Green Knight.

Ghanaian Soccer Player Rises to Challenge on SNC Gridiron

When Bright Boachie ’20 walked off the field on Nov. 16 following the Midwest Conference championship game at Monmouth College, he closed an improbable college football career. As a child in Ghana, the only football he knew was the sport played on a pitch – the game known as football to most of the world but as soccer in the United States.

In September 2008, Boachie and his family moved to the United States and took up residence in Chicago’s north side, where Boachie continued to play soccer.

“I met some guys when I was in the fifth grade. They would play pickup football before school in the morning,” he explains. “They invited me to play with them, and that’s when it all started. I began liking it. I thought I was pretty good.”

In seventh grade, Boachie decided to try out for a park-district football team, but he was too big. The league had a weight limit, so his first opportunity to play organized football was at Lane Tech College Prep High School in Chicago. Despite his soccer background, Boachie didn’t line up at kicker. He was first a nose guard before switching to outside linebacker. As a sophomore, he played fullback on the varsity in a triple-option offense. He also played cornerback, tight end, wide receiver and free safety in high school. But, he did receive a few kicking opportunities at Lane Tech.

“I was the kickoff guy. I did a couple field goals and made an extra point,” he says.

Boachie continued to play soccer until his junior year in high school. He believes that his soccer skills helped him on the gridiron.

“When I played soccer, I was mainly on the wings,” says Boachie. “You had to have quick feet to get around people. That’s one thing that I took with me as a receiver and as a defensive back. Having quick feet definitely helps.”

Moving into position
Boachie played slot receiver his first two seasons for the Green Knights.

“He really stood out as a freshman making plays,” says head coach Dan McCarty. “Then he started dropping footballs, so we moved him over to defense where we thought he could help us.”

Boachie says: “When Coach McCarty gave me the opportunity to switch to corner, I said, ‘Let’s do it.’ ”

He dealt with some adversity prior to the position switch. Boachie had experienced some shoulder problems in high school, and while blocking a linebacker from Ripon his sophomore year, he injured his left shoulder. The damage required surgery.

“When he came back, he had to be braced up,” explains McCarty. “It’s not easy playing with the brace. Other guys could have easily folded up after going through the injury he experienced.”

Boachie was a reserve cornerback and a special teams contributor as a junior. This season, an injury at free safety opened up the position, so Boachie stepped in as the starter.

“It’s fun. You see everything. It was a big challenge at first,” he says. “At corner you don’t have to think about much. The safeties are giving us the calls.”

The energy of game-day Saturdays at St. Norbert will be something he’s going to miss, says Boachie. He compares the excitement to soccer games in his home country of Ghana.

“Soccer games at the schools over there are equivalent to football games here,” he says. “It’s not just the students who attend but the people in the neighborhood.”

Bright star, bright future
Boachie, who is also a sprinter on the St. Norbert track and field team, finished his senior football season with 23 tackles, an interception and a forced fumble.

McCarty says that he will remember Boachie as a player who was always looking out for his teammates.

He adds, “I’m proud of what he did on the field, but I’m going to be even more proud to watch him get his diploma. He is going to do great things.”

Boachie says he would like to return to Ghana someday. He has not been back since moving to the U.S. in 2008.

As far as his football future, he is open to staying involved in the game as a coach. “He would be a good one,” says McCarty. “He’s good at communicating.

“Bright is the appropriate name for that young man,” adds McCarty. “He shines. Our team sees that. Our team feeds off that energy.”

Dec. 10, 2019