Stars aligned: BYU volleyball standout Ryan Boyce proving that hard work pays off

By Jonathan Boldt

For the Deseret News

Published: Thursday, Jan. 31 2013 3:55 p.m. MST

PROVO — For the very best athletes, success seems written in the stars.

That's what Hollywood seems to tell us anyway.

The best of the best, Hollywood movies suggest, seem to have natural talent and the ideal body type, positioning themselves to get just the right break along the way to fulfill every dream imaginable.

An occasional Rudy gets thrown into the mix, but normally money, fame and athletic achievements are reserved for the elite of the elite, modern-day gladiators every sandlot kids aspires to become.

Somewhere in between those two vastly different extremes sits the overlooked role player, the athlete whose importance to the team is enormous and story is compelling.

Usually, though, those stories don't get told. Why? Because a role player doesn't need or want the spotlight.

Ryan Boyce fits that bill exactly.

The senior setter on BYU's men volleyball team would rather sit in an ice bath than draw attention to himself. Whenever he steps on the court, however, he's an absolutely integral part of the Cougars' team.

Near the end of a standout career, Boyce may not be the subject of any upcoming movies. But his strong work ethic has enabled many things to come together in his life — on and off the court.

The thing that's made Boyce important to BYU's team is the same thing that got him here in the first place: hard work. He combined with his older brother to start at setter at Huntington Beach High in California for five consecutive years before his hard work began to garner some attention from Division I schools.

Recruited by Penn State and Pacific, there was really only one school for Boyce, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“Ryan was playing with his junior national team in a tournament in Salt Lake,” said Ryan’s father, Gary Boyce. “They crushed the Chinese national team and then beat the USA second team that happened to be coached by Tom Peterson, who was the head coach at BYU at the time. Ryan ended up winning the award for best setter of the tournament and when we got home we had an email from Tom. All it said was, ‘Ryan will be a Cougar.’ I can’t tell you how exciting that was for the whole family.

“That made things really easy," Gary added. "All we had to do when other schools expressed interest was to say ‘sorry, he’s going to BYU.’ As an LDS kid who loved volleyball, there really is no other school to consider."

For Ryan, that decision would play a huge part in the next seven years of his life.

“BYU was very accommodating for missionaries to go and come back," he said. "You don’t necessarily have a spot when you get back but I just felt like I needed to go on a mission. Everything has panned out the way it’s supposed to, though. I met my wife, played for BYU and still was able to serve a mission. So I have been blessed to have had the chance to come here. And now in two weeks I’ll find out if we’re having a boy or a girl.”

For many single college students, the simple becomes complex and dating becomes a Rubik’s Cube of distractions. Tara, Ryan’s wife of two-and-a-half years, has helped simplify things for Boyce, as well as help him improve his grades along the way.

“I don’t have to go find my best friend,” Boyce said. “I know where she’s going. It’s not like when you’re single and are always trying to find something to do. Which that’s fine. I had a great time doing it. But once I got married it was like, ‘shoot, life’s coming at you fast,’ and it’s taking care of a family, working and you grow up fast for sure.”

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