Jana' Boyd: How the CIAA Impacted My Life

Aug. 24, 2017

I grew up with an old soul, raised an only child by both of my parents. When I was younger I developed eczema, a condition where patches of skin become inflamed and cause rashes. It took over my whole entire life. I was a happy kid, but when I moved schools in the third grade everything started to change. I began to have low self-esteem and I couldn't trust anyone. It got so bad that the teachers would pick on me and I felt worthless. One time, I wore my coat to the playground at recess because I was so embarrassed of my eczema. That particular day, this boy poured red dirt in my hair and I started to cry. I ran to the teachers for help and their exact words were, "Red looks good on you". They proceeded to take pictures of me and I felt horrible. The people that I thought were supposed to help me and make me feel better made my life miserable. Ever since, my life was full of insecurities and doubts. Going through middle and high school was a long process of trying to fit in and being someone who I wasn't.

Once I graduated high school and came to college, my life changed again. Things were getting better as I decided to fully commit my time to finding myself.

Fast forward to my junior year of college when I turned to meditation and prayer. This was MY year of accomplishing goals that, in past years, I never thought I would reach. I planned to become MVP of bowling (my primary sport), join the volleyball team, and excel in my major. Just before the bowling season I got news that my bowling coach would not be returning. As the captain of my team, I felt alone. Not only that, but we were struggling to find a full 5-female team so that we could participate in conference events. I didn't know what to do.

Over Christmas break, a former player was announced our new coach and we eventually pulled enough athletes together to fill our roster. I continued to focus on my personal goals, but also was determined to make sure my teammates got something out of this experience. For some of them, this was their first time bowling or playing a college sport. It was my job to make them feel like they weren't there just to compete, but to have fun no matter the score.

I want to give a special thanks to my teammates and coach. Without them I would not be where I am today. They stuck beside me the entire season and, despite not knowing what to expect, continued to believe in my leadership, which meant so much. The most rewarding part about the season was that I helped motivate them to try something new and they enjoyed it. I wasn't there just to compete, but also to have fun with my team. If we won some that would be great, but it only mattered as long as we were having a good time. Now the girls want to come back and bowl again next year.

Near the end of that season it was brought to my attention that I could possibly get the Player of the Year because, even though we missed the first tournament, I had the highest average amongst all CIAA bowlers. I was excited! My dreams were coming closer and closer and I could feel it. It came down to the last tournament which was in Charlotte. After the coaches had their meeting, one of the coaches said to me, "Congratulations". I had won CIAA Most Valuable Player by one pin! At that moment, those words could not even register in my brain.

Unfortunately, my team did not qualify to participate in the conference tournament, but a couple days later I got a text. Since I won MVP, I was given the opportunity to commentate on the live web stream for the conference bowling championship.

I had taken some broadcasting classes and was involved with the radio station which made me more confident to say yes to the invitation. When the conference championship came around I was nervous, but excited! I was told that I just needed to give my expertise on bowling and the techniques. Bowling is second nature to me, so it was nothing for me to give my opinion and take on the event.

New relationships formed during that bowling championship led me to yet another opportunity. I recently completed a summer communications internship at the CIAA and words cannot explain how grateful I am. I had the opportunity to work for an organization that invests their time in their athletes. I would like to thank the CIAA and its staff for the opportunities that they have provided to me and all the athletes in the conference. I got to see the behind-the-scenes work that goes into what we see at championships as athletes. We do not say it enough, but we are truly grateful. I look forward to great future with the CIAA and to see the growth within the conference.

Life has a funny way of doing things. Life has created humility toward my path and I am truly grateful for the things that I have accomplished. I have achieved my greatest goal: earning CIAA Bowler of the Year and being named to the All-CIAA Tournament Team. I am Aliya Jana' Boyd, senior bowling student-athlete at Elizabeth City State University, and I am #CIAAForLife!

Special Thank You

I want to express a huge thank you to my parents for standing behind me through everything! I have been been involved in so many activities and I can remember them being at most games, concerts, competitions, and award ceremonies. I truly appreciate everything that they have done for me. Words cannot express how much I love and appreciate their support!