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Overcoming an injury

And finding a career path at Presbyterian College



A heart-breaking injury in high school ended Amirah Boyd’s career path as a gymnast. But a transformative education from Presbyterian College and four years on the Blue Hose Acrobatics and Tumbling team set her on a new course – as a college coach.

Boyd ‘23 got her first post-graduation job as the head acrobatics and tumbling coach at Caldwell University in New Jersey while the ink was still drying on her diploma. It has been an amazing journey from the pain and disappoint of that fateful injury to her new role leading the Cougars acro and tumbling squad – and it all began with a trip to Clinton.

“When I got hurt, I thought athletics at that point was off the table,” Boyd said. “But PC reached out to me through one of my best friends who had committed to play soccer and she encouraged me to come for a visit. She said, ‘You’re going to love it.’ And I did. I immediately fell in love with the staff, the coach, the school, the campus, everything. It was an opportunity that fell in my lap and I didn’t look back after that.”

At first, Boyd aspired to major in biology and become a physical therapist to work with other people who suffered injuries. By her sophomore year, though, with encouragement from PC’s former acrobatics and tumbling coach Amber Morrell and its current coach, Kara Christian, Boyd discovered instead a love for coaching and teaching other young athletes and switched her major and minor to athletic coaching and psychology.

“Coach Morrell told me I had a knack for coaching,” she said. “I coached younger kids at my gym back home when I was 14, so I was doing stuff like that during the summers. But it was a little different. At PC, I started learning about all the rules and all the behind-the-scenes stuff that goes into a coach’s preparation. That’s when I knew it was what I wanted to do.”

Christian said it was evident Boyd had what it takes to coach and thrive.

“Amirah is a go-getter and is very determined, I learned that about her early on,” Christian said. “She knows what she wants, and she sets her mind to it and makes it happen. I was very excited when she told me she wanted to coach because she has so many great qualities that it takes to be a great head coach. She was one of the biggest leaders on the team and always had her teammates’ backs. She was encouraging and always selfless – she would do anything she needed for myself or her team.”

Athletic director Dee Nichols also witnessed Boyd’s passion for the sport and her ability to lead.

“It was obvious that Amirah, even as a freshman, had great charisma and leadership ability,” Nichols said. “She immersed herself into the PC community by getting involved in student organizations as well as being a leader on her team. Amirah worked for us in the athletic department and was devoted and dependable, but so engaged in whatever job we asked her to do. She not only shows up, she excels in everything she does. When she took the head coaching job, I was not surprised and know how lucky her team is to have such a hard-working, brilliant leader.”

PC has a long history of sending coaches into the world to teach and serve young people. Boyd is the first to come from the acrobatics and tumbling branch of the college’s coaching tree. It is a small piece of history that is not lost on her.

“It feels pretty great,” Boyd said. “Obviously, my teammates and I were part of the inaugural program at PC and built the foundation of what the program has become. Looking back on everything I’ve learned about acro and tumbling – it all came from Presbyterian College. PC will always have a special place in my heart.”

Now, Boyd represents PC in a different way – taking what she has learned and applying it at a different school with different athletes who are no longer her teammates but her team. Like PC, Caldwell’s program is relatively new, having just completed its first full season of competition.

Boyd said she never imagined at first that she would become a head coach so soon after graduating. But the lessons she learned at PC – the rigors of recruiting and building resources and skills – are being put into action right away.

“I started applying for jobs in February of my senior year and everyone was telling me I should start as an assistant coach or go to graduate school and be a grad assistant,” she said. “Basically, I was being told to do everything except be a head coach. But I knew I wanted to have my own program. I wanted to recruit and make those connections with the student-athletes. So, I just went for it.”

Going for it paid off. In May of 2023, Boyd was named head coach at Caldwell and just completed her first season in charge. She said she has a strong desire not only to develop her team and win but also to grow the sport.

“I feel truly blessed,” Boyd said. “It’s really great to be a part of something new or up and coming. I preach that to my recruits, too, that they’re in this age where the sport is pretty new. It’s a big deal to be part of something like this. We’re making history in the sport and that’s something you can never put a price on.”