Charllene Boshoff: South African sensation

The senior defender is a strong, steady force for AU field hockey

Charllene Boshoff: South African sensation

From the Newsstands: This story appeared in The Eagle's November 2022 print edition. You can find the digital version here

Charllene Boshoff knows how to win. In 2019, her first year at American University, the team won the Patriot League championship for the first time since 2016. While that may not sound like a large gap, it is for a team like AU field hockey, which won 11 Patriot League championships in 14 years from 2003 to 2016. And she’s not going anywhere just yet. The senior captain, who will play a fifth season with the Eagles as a graduate student, is still focused on this year.

“I really just want to put it all out there on the field,” Boshoff said. “I'm still having another season, but since it’s my class’s last few games, I really just want to put it all out there for them.”

Boshoff has started every game of her college career, but she was nearly forced out of the sport just before getting to AU when she broke her hand during her senior year of high school.

“I'd never had an injury before that, and then it was my senior year. It was like the most critical time of my hockey career, what I thought was my hockey career,” Boshoff said. “I was devastated. Basically, that taught me that there's more to life than just hockey.”

This understanding persists, as she’s made the National Field Hockey Coaches Association Academic Squad every year so far and the Patriot League Academic Honor Roll twice. She is currently studying international business administration and will attend graduate school at AU next year to study business analytics. She has always had big aspirations and wanted to come to D.C. to study.

“I mean, it's the capital of the most powerful country in the world. How cool is that?” Boshoff said. Boshoff has excelled in field hockey her whole life,  earning best defender honors in high school, but her game has only improved throughout her collegiate career.

Field hockey defenders typically don’t score many goals, but she had eight this season, compared to her previous rate of one per year. Three of her eight goals this year came in American’s 8-0 defeat of Colgate on Sept. 24.

“I was really grateful because [goal scoring] is something I've been working on my whole career to get to. Now that I'm a senior and I've been promoted to take on those roles in the team, it's really nice to see that hard work paid off and that I've really stepped up and tried to do what I know how to do,” Boshoff said.

Boshoff’s commitment to her game and her team is obvious to anyone who’s seen her play, especially her coach, Steve Jennings.

“Charllene is full of life. Passionate, loves hockey, loves her academic pursuits, is a very grateful person and very warm and optimistic,” he said. “She's a tremendous talent on the field, very powerful, somebody who's critical for both our deep defense and for scoring goals in corner situations in particular. When you have people who love the game, and who bring that every day, that creates an incredible template for the team.”

American had a spot in this year’s playoffs, but just making the playoffs was not their end goal. The Eagles have high expectations placed on them by fans and outsiders, but the expectations they place on themselves are even higher. The Eagles fell to Lehigh in the Patriot League semi-final.

“Anything less than a championship is unacceptable for us,” Jennings stated.

Boshoff has internalized these expectations, but they don’t consume her. That desire to win and reach the top drives every player, but she also seems content to take it one game at a time. When she plays, she is graceful. Though she excels at what she does, it would be disingenuous to say that it appears effortless because it’s also clear that she’s worked hard to get where she is today. Her efforts have been rewarded as she was named to the 2022 All-Patriot League First Team. 

Her career past next season is uncertain as she entertains ideas of pursuing a career in business or potentially playing field hockey internationally. The future is not her focus because today she is grounded in the 2022 field hockey season and has championship aspirations.

“The pressure is on because you're an upperclassman and you’ve got to show the freshmen coming in like this is what is done,” Boshoff said. “It's what is expected. This is what we did. And it's possible for us to do it again.”

pjennings@theeagleonline.com

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