At a quick glance, Hannah Boyer appears to be just another athlete giving her all on the court. Her 6-foot stature makes her extremely valuable for the Emmaus Bible College Eagles, dominating in the paint and on the boards. But her passions go much further than sinking a ball in a basket.
Showing and spreading love to others truly motivates Boyer in her daily life. Although she does this during basketball, she would rather teach these values to kids and around her community.
Nothing puts a smile on Boyer’s face more than standing in front of a room of eager children – bright-eyed as if someone waved candy – giving them all of the love and education they desire.
“I love being there for them and showing them love when a lot of kids don’t have that love or support from different people in their lives,” Boyer said.
High School Days
With a mother who played basketball in high school and a grandmother who did so through college, Boyer’s chances of not spending time on the hardwood were slim. She first tried basketball at 4 years old and hasn’t stopped since. While doing so, she also participated in volleyball, softball and swimming – dropping them all by the time she hit college.
She also kept busy outside of the sports world at her high school in Milford, Ill. as a member of the National Honor Society, Student Advisory Council and Vice President of Student Council.
As a key player for the Milford Bearcats, Boyer and her team went on to win regional finals in 2019. Part of the team’s success came from their chemistry. Milford’s population of less than 1,300 made it easy to stick with the same crowd throughout grade school.
“I grew up with all these girls. We went to school together from kindergarten and we graduated together because [Milford’s] so small,” Boyer said.
Playing for God
Boyer stuck with that small school environment when she decided to join the basketball team at Free Lutheran Bible College (FLBC), a two-year college with a primary goal of focusing on students’ spirituality.
Unlike her time as a Bearcat, success in Boyer’s life didn’t come from scoring points or winning championships. However, the lack of wins never stopped Boyer from bonding with the team. Boyer would entertain her teammates with her stories while they drove to away games.
The connections that she created with her teammates were unbreakable and it all came from the reasons they played the game – using their faith to show love to others.
“We [didn’t] win many games,” Boyer laughed. “We won one my second year of college there, but that was probably my favorite year of playing because we were just going out there to show Christ love to other people.”
She showed this kind of love by cheering players on and helping them on the court, regardless of whether they were on her team. This doesn’t mean she lacks competitiveness or the will to win, but Boyer prioritizes love on the court over the score when the clock hits zero.
Boyer realized how to play in the name of her faith from one of her favorite basketball coaches, Wendy Greven – head coach at FLBC.
Greven says she puts a premium on “respecting each other and loving each other on the court or showing love and respect to the opposite team and the refs.”
Boyer’s spiritual maturity allowed her to grow in her faith and learn how to play for God while at FLBC.
“Not only is she really a Godly example of what we desire the players to be at FLBC, but she is also just fun and enjoyable to be around,” Greven said.
Boyer extends these values of loving others and following God to children in her community and beyond. During her time at FLBC, Boyer participated in Vacation Bible School (VBS) programs.
VBS programs are offered by many churches and allow for kids to learn about God through entertaining activities.
Through an affiliation with FLBC, Boyer and a group of people went to different churches to teach children about the Gospel in the summer of 2021. They traveled all over the country and visited South Dakota, Illinois, Missouri, Tennessee, Virginia and Pennsylvania.
Seeing kids eager to learn about religion brought immense joy to Boyer. They often could get her “hyped” on a day she might have felt gloomy.
“They genuinely thirst for the word and they want to know who Jesus is and what he’s done for them,” Boyer said. “They ask questions and you can just see them light up.”
Through these experiences teaching children about the Lord, Boyer realized that she wanted to become a teacher, which prompted her decision to major in elementary education at Emmaus Bible College.
From Conquerors to Eagles
After two years at FLBC, Boyer graduated with a diploma in Biblical Studies and continued her education at Emmaus. Boyer knew that she wanted to attend a small Christian school, but could not think of any.
She then remembered that she faced Emmaus when she played at FLBC and thought that being a part of the Eagles would fit her well.
“I looked at [Emmaus’] website and I liked their mission statement and I liked that they were small and Christ centered, so I took a tour and really liked it,” Boyer said.
The mission at Emmaus is similar to that of FLBC, as they play for a higher power.
According to Emmaus head basketball coach Sharon Tomlinson, “We really emphasize that our purpose on earth, our purpose in this life is to honor God and to further his kingdom and we do that with the gifts and talents that God has given us.”
Because of Greven and her coaching style at FLBC, Boyer already knew how to use her talents in the way that Tomlinson and Emmaus preferred. Tomlinson started her job as the Eagles’ head coach in 2021 – the same year that Boyer joined the team.
When Tomlinson arrived she wanted to introduce herself to the players one-on-one. In her meeting with Boyer, Tomlinson stated that Boyer asked zero questions pertaining to the gameplay of basketball.
Instead, she questioned what the focus would be spiritually. This stood out to Tomlinson.
“She really truly loves to do everything for Christ,” Tomlinson said.
Although the logistics of a basketball game do not mean as much to Boyer as the reason she plays, she has been a tremendous help down low.
During the 2021-22 NCCAA Division II Women’s basketball season, Boyer averaged a team leading 8.1 rebounds a game (21st best in league) and 1.1 blocks a game (10th best in league).
“Having her height and her size has been incredibly important for us,” Tomlinson said. “She’s the response to a lot of other taller or bigger people on other teams.”
During the summer of 2022, Boyer will be staying close to her college in Iowa to train with her coach and work on her game. But at the same time she’ll be working at the Dubuque Dream Center (DDC).
At DDC she is going to help kids in basketball and academics while still having different opportunities for ministry. She’ll be working with kids from first to third grade – a grade short of her dream classroom of fourth graders.
“I just want to work on loving other people the best way I can,” Boyer said.
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