“In Spain, you compete for yourself,” Senior Paula Boixader said. She knew that things would be different when she left everything she knew in Barcelona, Spain to play tennis at the collegiate level in America. She didn’t know that she would be playing doubles and singles with the Georgia Southern Eagles.
Boixader went to Col-legi Pare Manyanet Barcelona, a high school in Barcelona. In Spain, you can stop studying when you are 16 years old, but Boixader wanted to continue her education in America.
She was accepted to Armstrong State University in 2016 but became an Eagle after the merger. She had no doubt in her mind that she wanted to follow Coach Sean McCaffrey to join the Eagles because they had such a strong relationship.
McCaffrey discovered Boixader through a video that was sent to ASU by her coaches in Spain. He knew she was something special.
At the age of seven, Boixader’s parents put her into tennis. After practicing and learning from her coaches, she began playing in the Spanish Federation.
Not long after playing in the Federation, coaches began to see a spark and real talent in the 12-year-old.
“I was always doing ok in [tournaments]. I got to play in the Spanish tournaments and then my coaches told me that I should try international tournaments.”
Last season, GS went on to the finals in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament. The family atmosphere that McCaffrey has implemented at ASU and now at GS is what got the team so far. Not only is he like a second dad, he is a role model to the women, Boixader said.
The distance between Boixader and her family has gotten easier over time. She goes to Spain during breaks to visit her family and calls them often. Most of all, what makes that distance more bearable is the family that she has in her teammates.
When comparing ASU and GS, Boixader says that the schools are different in how the women athletes are encouraged to focus on academics.
“At Georgia Southern, they really care about our academics,” Boixader said. “Armstrong is more related to tennis.”
Boixader is a senior marketing major and management minor at GS and was named on the 2018-19 Sun Belt Conference Academic Honor Roll, the 2018-19 ITA All-Academic Team and the 2017-18 All-Sun Belt Second Team Doubles.
Sarah Smith, The George-Anne Managing News Editor, email@example.com