Sept. 6, 2003
By Jeremy Schulman, FSU Sports Information
While many successful Florida State athletes have come and gone through the years, there are a few that make a lasting impression, not only for what they do on the field, but for what they do off the field as well. One of these athletes is senior linebacker Michael Boulware. Just by talking to him for a few minutes, one can sense how special a person he truly is.
One of the things that Boulware prides himself most on is his solid Christian faith from which he pulls his strength.
"I am a Christian," Boulware said. "I live by the Bible."
Boulware tries to relate everything in his life to his faith. One obvious way that he practices this belief is by the people with which he surrounds himself. His friends include those who have the same spiritual beliefs. Because of this, he is known around Florida State as a good role model, someone who cares about himself and the community. He is really one of the nice guys. This became very evident in the spring of 2002. When most college kids were partying during spring break, Boulware, teammate Paul Irons and 14 others from Morningstar International Church traveled to Johannesburg, South Africa. As the Tallahassee Missions Team, the group set out to help start a Champions for Christ ministry with the His People Christian Church of Johannesburg.
"I think the whole trip was ordained by God, especially for me and the way it worked, because I was scared to leave and God took care of that," Boulware said. "Obviously, we had to speak, when I first got here (to FSU), I didn't like to speak. But this year, we've spoken at plenty of high schools and churches. It was perfect timing. God prepared me the whole year to go on this trip. I cleared my mind completely. I was up for anything God had for me. I didn't go in with any expectations, I just wanted to go and receive whatever God had for me. Everything was great. It was just awesome. I went over there with a clear focus."
Boulware also has a clear focus on his team this season. Chosen the defensive team captain by Coach Bowden, Boulware is truly passionate about getting back the FSU tradition of having one of the most dominant defenses in the nation. He understands and accepts his role as a captain and is gladly taking on the responsibility.
"Being selected a captain, it's an honor," Boulware said. "I really can't believe it's me. I was surprised. There are a lot of good guys out there who could handle the job better than me. I appreciate the opportunity and hopefully I will do well."
Boulware is an optimist. He is the type of person who takes a negative and turns it into a positive or into a motivation to improve. At the end of last season, Boulware went to his coaches requesting a change in his position from linebacker to safety. The coaches felt that it would be better for the team if Boulware stay put at linebacker. It wasn't exactly what Boulware had hoped, but a decision he supported, putting his team ahead of himself. Displaying once again the true leader that he is.
"I am going to do what helps out the team the most," Boulware said. "It was better for me to stay at linebacker for the team, so, therefore, I am still a linebacker. I might be a safety at the next level, but it's not all about me. It's about the team."
While he is the brother of former FSU consensus All-American defensive end Peter Boulware, now with the Baltimore Ravens, he has tried to separate himself from the pressures that often occur.
"Coming in, I may have felt some pres-sure by the fans and coaches, but not by my brother or my family," Boulware said. "They understand that I'm going to be my own person, but I take it more as motivation than as stress or pressure."
It didn't take long for Boulware to make a name for himself. An experienced veteran who is expected to contend for All-ACC and All-America honors this season, Boulware has started every game the past two seasons. A second-team All-ACC selection in 2002, Boulware was second on the team and in the top 10 in the ACC with 127 total tackles, including 67 solo. A player who can run like a safety and hit like a linebacker, Boulware came up with crucial interceptions in the Miami and Georgia Tech games. He also scored the only FSU points against NC State when he returned a fumble 84 yards for a touchdown, giving him three for his career.
When Boulware was being recruited, he chose Florida State because of the positive experience his brother had, the school's ministry and the strength of the program and the exposure it provides which will help in his quest to play professional football. In fact, he is already looking toward the future and wants to work in the ministry after his football career.
This summer, another aspect of his future came to the forefront. Over Memorial Day weekend, Boulware became engaged to Jessica van der Linden, an All-America pitcher for the Florida State softball team. The two have set a July 2004 wedding date. Boulware said that both he and van der Linden are very supportive of each other, especially athletically.
"I never compare my awards to her awards," Boulware said. "I know that she is going to do her thing and I am going to do my thing. I just want her to do the best that she can and I am going to do the best that I can. We're very competitive and I think that it is a common ground that we can both relate to."
Maybe nice guys can finish first.