Howard’s Thalia Boucher wants to help end the stigma of HBCU athletics

Howard University’s Thalia Boucher is a game-changer. The junior midfielder’s talent on the soccer pitch is impressive and is matched outside of the game by her desire to help make this world a better place.

As a freshman in 2018, Boucher picked up one goal and three assists while also making the SWAC All-Tournament team before taking her game to the next level in 2019.  She scored eight goals and added four assists en route to being selected SWAC Co-Player of the Year. Thalia told BGN, “Being selected as SWAC Co-Player of the Year in my 2019 season was such an incredible feeling. Since the very start of the season, my goal as an individual player was to be recognized more in the conference. Thus, when I did receive that award, it really made me feel like all the blood, sweat and tears paid off.”

“That honor meant and still means everything to me. My goal as a player was to receive more accolades in the SWAC, so I can showcase that Howard has amazing talent, and the program is constantly growing each year, and the team is only getting better and stronger.”

How would she grade her breakout 2019 NCAA season? Boucher said, “Personally, I am very hard on myself, so I think I would grade my 2019 performance as a “B.” Although, I accomplished my individual goal, I did not accomplish my team goal. Soccer is a team sport, and it was very important to me that I help my team be number one again for the second year in a row. My team had an amazing season, but we can always get better.”

COVID-19 has prevented Howard from playing matches since that 2019 campaign, but Boucher has continued to work to be at the top of her game when matches resume. “Since 2019, I have been working a lot on my strength and conditioning. Physicality is a big part of college soccer and being a smaller player I have to constantly be working more on my strength,” she explained. “Winning 50/50 balls is so crucial as a midfielder; thus, being more fit than my opponent is important for my team’s success. I also perform a lot of technical work, whether that is in my basement or backyard.”

“Being comfortable on the ball is one of my strengths, but I am always looking to get better for when I return to campus. Most importantly, I have been focusing a lot on my nutrition. Not being able to be as active as I am used to during the school year, it is essential for me that I maintain a healthy lifestyle, and that starts with my diet. It is my responsibility to return in the best shape I possibly can.”

Boucher will get a chance to show the results of her offseason work this fall when Howard makes their NEC debut after moving to the conference from the SWAC. “Honestly, excited is an understatement,” Thalia said about getting back on the pitch this fall. “I am so ready to get back on the field with my best friends and start our new journey in the NEC. Being a new team in the conference, we’re starting the season with a target on our back, but I am really looking forward to showing these teams what Howard is all about. We are coming to win.”

A native of Toronto, Boucher was drawn to Howard, located in Washington D.C. “When I started the recruitment process, and started to look into universities, there was no doubt in my mind I wanted to take my soccer career to an HBCU. I want to encourage more talented, young black athletes to attend HBCUs.”

“There is such a strong stigma that HBCUs can’t get you to where you want to be athletically, and I really want that to change, and I wanted that to start with me. When I got into contact with Coach Brent Lieba, and went on my first visit to Howard, met the team and saw the school culture, I instantly fell in love and knew that was the place for me.”

Thalia’s passion for change extends far beyond changing the stigma regarding HBCUs. “The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement is definitely something that I am very passionate about,” she said. “Since the pandemic started, issues have been brought to light, such as police brutality and the meaning behind white privilege. I had the opportunity to create signs with my family and March in a protest fighting against racism and for equality amongst society.”

“All of this has been extremely overwhelming for me as I am black and have personally experienced discrimination due to my skin color, which is hard to understand because it just doesn’t make sense to me. People around the world are so much more than the color of their skin and we need to end the ignorant thinking and be more compassionate, welcoming and loving.”

Boucher added, “It’ll take time but I truly believe we can get there, especially with a new United States president, I have faith that positive change will occur. As a student-athlete, I will continue to use my platforms on social media to praise equality and support the BLM movement. I’m proud to be black and I won’t ever be silent on the issues we face.”

Whether she’s scoring goals on the pitch or pushing for racial equality off of it, Thalia Boucher is an incredible representative for Howard University and an inspiration to the next generation.

Author

Carson A Merk

Reporting live from Sin City, I have covered both RGVFC and Las Vegas Lights FC since their inceptions. I also write profiles to highlight players from the NCAA to USL to NWSL and everywhere in between.