Captain of character

Shepherd's Tyler Boswell doesn't fit the normal team captain mold, but that's just fine with him and his coach.

Shepherd's Tyler Boswell doesn't fit the normal team captain mold, but that's just fine with him and his coach.

March 03, 2003|by BOB PARASILITI

SHEPHERSTOWN, W.Va. - You might say Tyler Boswell earned a field commission at Shepherd College.

Boswell is the captain of the Rams men's basketball team. And like most team captains, the senior from Martinsburg earned it, even though he doesn't fill the stereotype or prototype of the position.

Usually, a captain is the team's best athlete. Boswell readily admits he is far from that.

Usually, a captain is a starter. Boswell is one of the last players off of Shepherd's bench.

Usually, a captain is one of the team's top scorers. Boswell hasn't scored a point all season.

Yet, very few would say Boswell is undeserving of such an honor, as unconventional as it may be.

You see, this Shepherd officer is a gentleman and because of that Boswell is a crucial cog in coach Ken Tyler's grand plan to get the Rams' program up where it belongs.


"Sure, I wish he was a 6-foot-5 quick, leaping, jumping combo guard ... but he's not," Tyler said. "He's never embarrassed the program. He's done some much in the community and with his academics, it all speaks for itself."

Boswell's reign as captain will end along with his college career this week as Shepherd enters the West Virginia Conference tournament.

In a world where performance and numbers are sometimes confused for worth, Boswell is an invaluable member of the Rams - it's just that all his contributions aren't confined to a stat sheet.

"He's not the most talented guy out there, but he works extremely hard and comes to practice prepared every day," Tyler said. "Tyler is the epitome of what a college athlete is supposed to be all about. He plays because he loves to, but he gets his accomplishments out of the classroom."

Captain, my captain

Many coaches look to their captains for leadership.

Fans confuse points and playing time for leadership. Coaches look for lockerroom presence, someone who can rally 15 players into a cohesive unit.

"When we thought about selecting Tyler, we sat down and made him aware that he was going to face challenges to be the captain," said Tyler, Shepherd's second-year coach. "Usually it is a player who is on the floor and playing a lot. He knew that wasn't probably going to happen. But what Tyler does have is he is a straight-up person with maturity and is accomplished in the classroom and in the community that overcomes the lack of time on the court."

Boswell, a 5-foot-9 point guard who has only nine points in his career, knew what he was getting into when Tyler offered him the job.

"I knew I was going to come in and work hard, but for me to go out there and be the leading scorer on the team, the chances were pretty slim," Boswell said. "I just wanted to work hard and help the team the ways that I could.

"Sometimes it's difficult (to be captain sitting on bench), especially when we are struggling or going through a difficult time. I have to keep going and keep on encouraging everyone."

Tyler has strong feelings about making his captain more of a building block than a symbol. The reasons for selecting Boswell came through clearly in the team's media guide.

"Tyler Boswell is everything you could want in a true student-athlete. He leads by example, and is a great role model for our younger players."

Ride, Captain, ride

During most games, Boswell can be found sitting about halfway down the Shepherd bench. He's near enough to the coaches, as a captain should be, but he's also in the midst of his teammates.

He scores through the backing he gives to his teammates.

"Unfortunately, I haven't been able to do it on the floor," Boswell said. "In a game, I try to approach it like a coach. During a timeout, I'll go over to tell (point guard) Kevin Newsome something I saw. It might be the same thing he's thinking about or knows it, but it's good to have it reinforced by someone else."

Boswell knows the ball won't be in his hand in a tight situation. So instead, he uses the talents he has to help the Rams.

"One of the things we always say to the team is that 'You will make the difference between winning and losing,'" Tyler said. "Tyler does his part because he keeps the kids focused and ready. He's always focused."

Boswell's ability to focus on most everything he does makes him even more important to Tyler and his program. Boswell's overall demeanor is important in proving that players have more depth than the ability to hit a 23-foot jumpshot.

"The way I always looked at is that I was going to go to college either way, but I wanted to play basketball and I got the opportunity," Boswell said. "You can learn a lot of things when you are in sports that you don't learn in a classroom. There's the discipline, the organization and being part of a team. It's all been a supplement to my education.

"Just doing that, off the court it gives me the chance to be recognized as more than just another student. It has allowed me to do things in the community."

Captain America

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