COLUMBIA — Evan Boehm’s success isn’t an accident.
It was forged on a soccer field and a wrestling mat. It was slowly and steadily achieved through the guidance of a father, and a coach.
It was earned through sweat, attention to detail and self-discipline.
Evan Boehm is a freshman, and he’s a starter. And he has "Coach Dad" to thank for that.
For Boehm, the only person on Missouri’s offensive line who has started every game this season, the road to Columbia has often veered away from the football field. Royce Boehm, his father and Lee Summit West’s head football coach, saw the caution signs in the halls of his school.
Throughout a career of coaching, he often came across kids who, by the time they hit high school, couldn’t do it anymore. At some point along the way, football ceased to be a game to them. It morphed into a chore, a job, a monotonous routine.
Royce Boehm didn’t want that for his son.
So when Evan Boehm grew up, he didn’t play the sport his father coached, lived and breathed. He played soccer and baseball and wrestled instead, adapting his giant frame to whatever sport was currently in front of him.
During soccer season, he was easy to spot — the giant, lumbered forward bowling over helpless defenders. He was a linchpin of his own team, and a menace to others.
“Nobody expected the big kid out there to be fast, so when they put me at forward they were like, ‘Oh, this is going to be easy,’” Evan Boehm said. “And then I’d blow right by them and they’d be like, ‘Whoa, who is this kid?’”
Because of their hulking frames, Evan Boehm and another friend on the soccer team became known as the “Boomer Brothers.” Royce Boehm and his wife, Teresa Boehm, made sure to bring Evan Boehm’s birth certificate to every game, just in case a disbelieving parent questioned their son’s age or eligibility.
But the more Evan Boehm grew, the more he ached to play football. Because of his father’s job, he spent a lot of time at the field and around the game. He knew the plays. He studied the techniques.
By the time Royce Boehm gave his son his blessing to play, he was ready.
“Even though he hadn’t played yet, he had control, a little grasp of what he needed to do,” Royce Boehm said. “And I’m telling you, when he stepped onto the field as a seventh-grader, he was frickin' head and shoulders taller than everybody else.”
Once Evan Boehm started playing football, he never stopped. And when he arrived at Lee’s Summit West as a freshman offensive lineman in 2008, his relationship with his father – and new coach – suddenly changed.
On the field, the man who raised Evan Boehm, who urged him to do situps and pushups before bed at age 10, who pushed him to a soccer pitch instead of a football field – that guy was "Coach." And not calling him "Dad" was something Evan Boehm had to get used to quickly.
“I made that mistake my first practice of my freshman year, and he kind of yelled at me for it. So I never said anything like that again,” Evan Boehm said. “I’d normally call him ‘Coach Dad’ – just throw both of them together, and he seemed fine with that.”
For four years, Royce and Evan Boehm lived in two worlds – the one on the football field, and the one inside their home. And both made sure those two worlds never collided.
“When we’re on the field, it’s ‘Coach.’ But when we’re off the field it’s ‘Dad.’ That’s probably what made it the most fun. I didn’t have to worry about him coming home and ripping me because I messed up,” Evan Boehm said. “He was a dad at home, and he was a coach on the field.”
The coach and the son had a lot of success together in those four years, culminating in a state championship in Evan Boehm’s junior season in 2010.
In the final moment of the final game, when the clock ran out on Lee Summit West’s 44-21 win over Webster Groves, Royce Boehm ceased to be "Coach." He was "Dad" in that moment, and he wanted nothing more than to celebrate with his son.
“As soon as we won it, I’m looking for Evan. I turn around, and he’s out in the middle of the field, with his arms wide open,” Royce Boehm said. “And I jump up into his arms, and I’m telling you, that picture right there says it all.”
It says it all about a son and a player, and a father and a coach. It says that those pushups in front of the bed, and the years of waiting to finally play, all paid off.
This year, Evan Boehm has continued to play, and succeed – but not for "Coach Dad" anymore.
When Evan Boehm, now 6-foot-3 and 315 pounds, ran through the tunnel as a starter in his first college football game Sept. 1, "Dad" was there, but not on the field.
And that absence, for Evan Boehm, signaled the end of one era and the beginning of a new one.
“It was weird when I ran onto the field, and I had all of these things that I would’ve done in high school during a football game or before a football game. One of them was to give my dad a hug before every game,” Evan Boehm said. “And walking out onto that field, you’re like, ‘Oh. I can’t do that anymore.’
“That’s probably when it hit me – when last year I was hugging my dad before every game and after every game, and now it’s just a hug after every game. It’s not ‘Coach Dad.’ It’s ‘Just Dad.’ But at the same time, it’s pretty cool to hug ‘Just Dad’ after a football game.”
After the clock ran out on Missouri’s 62-10 win over Southeastern Louisiana — a game in which Royce and Teresa Boehm’s eyes were rarely dry — Evan Boehm sought out his dad, and his family. He hugged his mom and his dad, just as he had in middle school, just as he had in high school.
Some things had changed. But others hadn't.
“When he gave me that hug, and he gave his mom a hug, that is what it’s about,” Royce Boehm said. “It’s one of those situations, where Teresa and I felt like we’ve raised him into a very strong and good young man.”
Evan Boehm has had to be strong, to survive a true freshman campaign starting on the offensive line in the Southeastern Conference. But his success, and his ability to persevere, is no accident.
His father set him on this path many years ago. And while his title has recently changed, that change, in the eyes of Evan Boehm, can be a positive one.
“That’s the cool thing about it. You’ve got ‘Coach Dad’ for four years, and now you get to see ‘Just Dad’ after a football game,” Evan Boehm said. “There’s a difference between ‘Dad’ and ‘Coach Dad,’ and you love to see the ‘Dad’ part of it.”
Supervising editor is Grant Hodder.