FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT Evan O’Kelly Director of Communications O: (406) 657-2130 E: firstname.lastname@example.org Thursday, January 12, 2017 Meet the Milroys: MSUB’s Hall of Fame Soccer Couple
Each part of building the most successful teams in MSUB men’s and women’s soccer history, the Yellowjackets’ power couple of Tom and Sam (Boehm) Milroy are set to be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Friday. MSUB SPORTS – As fall turned to winter late in the 2006 calendar year, Tom Milroy carried a new label as he covered ground across the campus at Montana State University Billings. The freshman center back on the Yellowjackets’ men’s soccer team had earned all-Heartland Conference honors in his very first season, and the leap of faith he took in moving to Billings from his home town of Aberdeen, Scotland was starting to prove to be worth the risk. He and fellow freshman Sam Charles – who went on to score more goals than anyone in MSUB and Great Northwest Athletic Conference history – were walking alongside one another as they approached Petro Hall near the dining area. Joining in next to the duo was women’s soccer freshman Sam Boehm, who had also earned all-conference honors in her first year as a center back. “I remember hearing his accent when we met in the dorms freshman year, but I had never
really talked to him until after the season,” said the now-named Sam Milroy. “I think to myself, ‘how did a girl from Oregon and a guy from Scotland wind up together?’ It was just meant to be.” Boehm and Milroy spent the next four years in one another’s company, growing into leaders of their respective teams on the pitch and into inseparable companions off of it. Whether they were kicking the ball together on the grass outside of McMullan Hall or discussing their most recent match, their bond strengthened every day through the game of soccer. On July 11, 2015, Sam and Tom were married, and on Friday they’ll be enshrined together into MSUB’s Hall of Fame and Distinction. “I never thought I’d have an opportunity to be a hall-of-fame player,” said Milroy, who will be the second men’s soccer player inducted after Charles earned the honor a year ago. “No one will be the same as Sam (Charles), but for me to be honored in this way without his type of numbers shows there are other pieces to being an MSUB soccer player.” Boehm, also a four-year starter for the ‘Jackets, will be the fifth women’s soccer player inducted after helping the team to its first and only NCAA Division II west region championships appearance as a senior in 2010. “It is just an honor, because there were so many amazing players on the women’s soccer team alone,” said Sam. “It is really awesome to be recognized for the time and hard work that we put into our careers.” Reaching the hall of fame was never the reason the Milroys played the game, but it is the end result of two of the finest careers in the 20-year history of MSUB’s soccer programs. Neither could have planned their relationship off the field either, each coming from soccer backgrounds on opposite ends of the spectrum. BUILDING THE FOUNDATION “After all was said and done, I knew that MSUB was going to be the right place for me. I had put a lot of trust in him, and his way of painting the picture was all I needed to hear.” – Tom Milroy on his recruitment by former Yellowjacket head coach Dan McNally. By the time Tom was 12, he lived and breathed soccer. Moving to the highly-competitive Albion boys club in his hometown of Aberdeen, he began developing a skillset that would ultimately translate into a college scholarship. Not only was he progressing quickly as a player, but his team won the Scottish cup and lost less than 10 matches through his five years on the squad. “By the time I finished with them, everybody I was playing with was going on to play professionally,” Tom said citing his age at around 16 at the time. “I had this idea that I wanted to stay in school, but continue to play at a high level. I was able to continue training with the academy, and that helped me get ready for college soccer.”
Then-MSUB head coach Dan McNally spotted Tom during a showcase tournament, and was on a mission to turn around a program that hadn’t had a winning season in its first 10 years of existence. “He told me he wanted to build the program around me and a few other guys, and emphasized that I was going to be a big part of the team,” Tom said on the coach he wound up playing under for the next four seasons. At the time, Tom was an attacking player who was in for a change in mindset upon his arrival at fall training camp at MSUB. “Dan pulled me in and told me they really needed someone like me at center back,” Tom remembered. “I knew what good players who played that position did, but I had never played there before. The team really needed someone back there though, and it ended up working out.” Tom credits having to defend Charles in practice as helping in his development defensively, as he began learning a position that his future wife had been honing her skill at for years. Growing up in Wilsonville, Ore., soccer was Sam’s first love and she, like Tom, made the game her sole focus by age 12. “I was the kind of person who would wimp out on dances and parties because I had soccer practice or tournaments,” Sam said. “Once you got to the level where you started getting recruited, it became soccer 24/7.” While McNally was in search of the formula for the men’s team’s first winning season, then-women’s head coach Don Trentham had already gotten over the hump with records of 11-5-2 in 2005 and 12-4-3 in 2004 for the first two winning years on MSUB’s women’s side. For the fifth-year head coach, it was about sustaining the recent success, and pushing forward to an unprecedented postseason berth in the NCAA tournament. Sam, who played for FC Portland in high school, knew that she wanted to leave Oregon for her collegiate career, and was immediately drawn to MSUB during her recruiting visit. “The girls were so easy to talk to and I felt like I knew them all right away,” Sam remembered. “I just felt like it was where I was meant to be.” Earning a spot as a starter, Sam led the team with 1,750 minutes played as a true freshman and helped the ‘Jackets to their best season to date with a record of 13-6-1. “Don set a very competitive environment, and I was lucky enough to come from a club
environment that was similar,” Sam said. “The seniors that year were super competitive, but they were very approachable and everyone was on the same page. We just wanted to win.” Sam referred to seniors Jenny Moellendorf, Ally Stroup, and Megan Plank, the latter two winding up in MSUB’s hall of fame after storied careers. It appeared that Sam herself was on her way to continuing their legacy, but a career-altering setback before her sophomore season changed her life forever. BONDING OVER RECOVERY “Tearing my ACL was a big moment. That’s when Tom became my best friend, and my support system.” – Sam Milroy on an injury that brought her and her future husband together.
Boehm as a senior defending in 2010 against WWU’s then-freshman Kristin Maris, a future GNAC Player of the Year.
By the second semester of their college careers, Sam and Tom had a few classes together and continued to spend time together casually. That all changed when Sam suffered a torn ACL, and Tom became the figure in her life that she needed most.
“I was there the second she got hurt all the way through her coming back, and that was a big thing that bonded us together,” Tom recalled. “Seeing her go through that, I knew I had to be there for her all the way through the injury. It was a big part of her career at MSUB, but also of us becoming much closer.” Just weeks before her sophomore season, Sam’s livelihood as she knew it was swept out from underneath her feet, as she went from being one of the team’s top talents to being unable to walk. The team went 9-10-1 without Sam’s presence on the back line, and Tom’s constant support while her teammates were away on road trips eased her pain of missing out on playing. While Tom focused his energy on caring for Sam, he helped lead the ‘Jackets to what still stands as their best-ever season at 13-4-1 and a perfect 8-0 mark at home. It was the second of four straight seasons in which Milroy started all 18 games, his cumulative total of 72 tying him for most games Milroy (5) poses with Sam Charles (10) and Justin Hoskins (4) as the played in school history. Overall during Milroy’s tenure, the ‘Jackets are presented with the GNAC Team Academic Award for the ’Jackets went 39-28-5 and he finished his career with three 2007-08 school year. consecutive winning seasons.
“I remember sophomore year we had a great year and were so close to going to regionals,” Tom said. “I couldn’t think of a better experience I could have had, especially for a place I had never been before. My family was able to come to Billings and watch me play multiple times, and hopefully I started to pave the way for the international kids who play at MSUB.” While Tom remained healthy and finished his career in four seasons, Sam was able to forego her sophomore campaign with a medical redshirt and retain three more years of eligibility. She was limited to just nine games upon her return in 2008, and despite being back to form in 2009 with 20 starts the team went a combined 19-20-1 through her middle seasons. Going from the remarkable success of her first season to being around .500 over the next two didn’t sit well with Sam, who was determined to make the most of her senior year – and fifth season – in 2010. Again leading the team with 1,801 minutes played – missing just 29 total on the year – the senior captain led the ‘Jackets on their first-ever run into the playoffs. Facing No. 19 Cal State Los Angeles in the opening round, Sam and the defense anchored the ‘Jackets to a historic 1-0 shutout win which still stands as the only NCAA playoff victory in school history Sam Boehm defending against SPU’s Megan Lindsay during for either soccer program. Though the team lost to No. 9 Seattle her final career match in the second round of the NCAA Pacific in its next matchup, Sam had finished one of the best careers regionals in 2010. the school had ever seen. “I call it the silver lining of tearing my ACL, because if I hadn’t done that I wouldn’t have been there for the 2010 season,” Sam said with a smile. “We had such a phenomenal senior class, and to be a part of that means a lot.” WEDDING BELLS BUZZING “It is such a unique place, and I think the thing Sam and I took away most were the people who were part of our experience.” – Tom Milroy on his time spent in the Magic City. The Milroys’ wedding featured no less than 25 guests from the duo’s MSUB days, each citing the connections they made while attending the university as being long lasting and invaluable. Staying loyal to his Scottish roots, the groom was adorned in a traditional kilt on the wedding day. “Soccer brought all of these people who share the same values as us to Billings, and it is great that we still get to be part of each other’s lives,” Tom said. “Dan and Don did such a good job of recruiting people first, and I’m proud that both of the programs are continuing to move forward.” Both Sam and Tom currently work in the athletic department at Texas A&M, putting their hard-earned degrees to work in careers in athletics. Cramming classes in during her medical year, Sam was able to complete a master’s degree in public relations in five years and is currently the director of annual programs for the 12th Man Foundation. Whether or not Tom knew it at the time, his work rehabbing Sam while she was injured directly parlayed into his current career as strength and conditioning coach for the Aggies’ women’s soccer team. “MSUB really paved the way for
everything that has come for us afterwards,” Sam said. “I had good experiences with my classes, and being an athlete made me want to stay involved with sports. Being part of a foundation that raises funds for athletes means a lot, because at MSUB you had to work hard for everything you got.” Though the two are well into their careers, they keep tabs on the current MSUB programs and continue to support the Yellowjackets. Tom followed a men’s soccer team that finished 9-6-3 last fall and was a win or two away from the national tournament, and remains proud of the 10 different nationalities represented on current head coach Alex Balog’s roster. “Every international player who I see there now is helping to move the program forward, and hopefully I helped in bringing them there because I was them once,” Tom said. “Now they are involved in the community, they’re good in the classroom, and they are playing good soccer. The spirit of soccer in Billings is very well represented by the school.” In the end, it was a mutual love for the game of soccer that brought a three-time all-conference defender from Scotland together with an all-region and three-time academic all-conference center back from the West Coast. In tandem they elevated their respective teams to the top of the conference, setting the bar high for all future players to come. Friday night, Tom’s unmistakable Scottish accent and Sam’s friendly personality will emanate from the hall of fame reception as they are forever etched into the history of Yellowjacket Athletics. Who would have thought?
The Milroys’ wedding featured an MSUB flavor, with past teammates and friends reconvening for their special day.
--@MSUBSports | #JacketNation--