MVP athlete heads to Indiana University

Danetta Boykin, who has had a successful two-year run for the Pierce College’s women’s volleyball team, continues her journey as she verbally commits to playing next year at Indiana University.

Pierce Athletic Director Bob Lofrano gives high praise to Boykin and the work she put in to get to the Division I level.

“It’s a great thing for Danetta. She’s come a long way from Birmingham [High School] to reach this pedestal,” Lofrano said. “She gets to reap the benefits of working hard and as a result [she] gets to compete at the national level.”

Boykin, who played outside hitter for the Brahmas, became one of the most highly-sought-out players in the nation after helping the Brahmas win two straight back-to-back state championships while being named 1st Team All-Conference twice and the state’s most valuable player in 2011.

With Pierce in the rear-view mirror, Boykin is now going to play against competition that is just as tall, fast and talented as she is. Boykin goes from playing in the Western State Conference to one of the nation’s most competitive conference at the Division I level: the Big Ten, which includes the five-time national championship team from Pennsylvania State University.

Boykin, however, welcomes the competition and the opportunity to compete against the very best. She will have to be at her best to earn playing time for the Indiana Hoosiers.

“I want to be the best and compete against the best,” Boykin said. “I want to develop more and become the best player I can be to help my team win.”

Despite the Hoosier’s five national championships, they have not been a historically-strong program. They have never won a conference championship and despite having recent success by making it to the Sweet 16 in 2010, they posted a lowly record of 12-20 in the 2012 season. Boykin hopes to change that though when she becomes a Hoosier.

“I talked to Tom Crean [Indiana’s men’s basketball head coach] and he actually was one of the people who persuaded me to come and become part of the winning tradition at Indiana,” said Boykin “I talked to Sherry Dunbar [women’s volleyball team head coach] as well, and the coaches told me they want to win. If you want to win, I want to win and I want to compete against the nation’s elite.”

As Boykin’s time winds down at Pierce she remembers her beginnings, from the first time she picked up the sport at Birmingham to the last two years playing for Pierce under the guidance of head coach Nabil Mardini. It was Mardini who helped turn her from raw talent to one of the most wanted outside hitters in the nation.

“Her work ethic is second to none,” said Mardini. “She’s humble, modest, comes hungry to practice and is always eager to learn and help her teammates get better.”

Boykin credits both Mardini and her high school head coach Dave Lertzman for helping her develop as a player.

“My coach Dave Lertzman was the first one to go up to me and he gave me a shot to join the team sophomore year. I made the varsity team, and God blessed me to work hard,” Boykin said. “Nabil has helped me the most out of anyone, mentally and physically in and outside the volleyball court and without him I would not be the player that I am today.”

Still, Boykin has a lot to look back on and remembers her time growing up as a player at both Birmingham and blossoming into a Division I talent at Pierce.

“I am very thankful for Pierce for helping me achieve my goals, and I thank Dave Lertzman for getting me started with volleyball and I appreciate Nabil for helping me continue at volleyball and pushing me to be the player I thought I could never be,” Boykin said. “No one is going to beat Pierce culture and I will forever be a Brahma.”