Boyte signs to continue soccer career with Lions

Published 11:11 am Tuesday, January 17, 2023

BROOKHAVEN — Ole Brook soccer player Maryanna Boyte is going to East Mississippi Community College to play soccer in the college program’s return from being shut down over 14 years ago. She inked her letter of intent Tuesday morning at Brookhaven High School. 

Boyte is a senior and is captain of the Lady Panthers. She has scored 19 goals and assisted six goals so far this season, head coach Dustin Bairfield said. 

Her soccer career started in ninth grade at BHS but she was around the game well before then as one of her sisters played soccer for a little bit and another played tennis in college. Bairfield helped prepare the team to play college soccer by taking them to soccer camps and by the way he trains them. 

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“We have talked to college coaches at those camps and they could tell us what we could work on as an individual to prepare for playing college soccer,” Boyte said. “When I started playing soccer I just had speed. I have since improved my foot work and touches. I have gotten to know the game better and I can now read the game and know what is going on to make me a better player.” 

EMCC is a perfect place to continue her college career. She said she wanted a community college experience while being close enough to Starkville to experience the University on the weekends. Her family are big state fans, she said. 

Lions head coach Kevin Sherry will lead the program in its first season since 2009. Sherry is a veteran coach from Grantham, England and has won 229 games. He has made stops at Graceland University, Western Illinois University and Louisiana Tech. 

Internationally, he coached the Guyana Women’s National Team. Boyte said she researched Sherry’s career and noted he had a proven track record of turning around programs and developing them into championship caliber teams. 

“He has taken teams to the top and it said a lot to me about him. If someone can go in and take a team who has nothing and make them good, then he is good at what he does,” she said. “He is a good coach and he knows what he is looking for.” 

Boyte said if she has a chance to play at Mississippi State after her time at EMCC is up she will take the chance. The Bulldogs are coached by Englishman James Armstrong. She said she plans to major in business and hopes to one day open her own business. 

Lisa Breazeale, her mom, owns Printed Cotton Company in Brookhaven. Boyte said her goal is to use her degree to open up her own business. 

“I have seen how much she has grown. I have always wanted to own some kind of business,” Boyte said. “I really think a clothing business would be good. I have seen how much joy it brings my mom and I want to follow in her footsteps.” 

Speed and dedication are what make Boyte such a strong forward player for the Panthers. Over the last few seasons, she has cheered, played softball and soccer but chose to cheer and focus strictly on soccer for her senior year. 

“She is an exceptionally good player. One of her greatest strengths is her speed. She is amazingly fast. Her ability to fly past people stands out,” Bairfield said. “Off the field she is a team leader and it is one of the reasons we named her a captain. She is a team leader on and off the field. She has passion and love for the game and shares it with the younger players. She is one of the ones who is always supportive.” 

Graduation is off in the distance and Boyte said she will miss the atmosphere at Brookhaven High School. Panther fans create a great atmosphere for games and homecoming festivities. 

“I have been involved in the homecoming production over the years and I love every bit of it. I can see how much people enjoy coming and watching,” Boyte said. “Seeing how much support we get at soccer games is cool too. We get a lot of support. I will miss my teammates on the field. They have made me a better person outside of soccer. I am a different player this year than last year. They have helped me. My dedication is to soccer.”