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September 10, 2012

Nate Boyer

Q.  Nate, can you tell us first and last name and your military ranking, please?
NATE BOYER:  Staff Sargeant Nate Boyer.

Q.  Staff Sargeant Nate Boyer.  Can you put into perspective and into words on the week of 9/11 how everything has come full circle in your life?
NATE BOYER:  9/11 is a bittersweet day, actually.  So many good things have come out of that on such a tragic day.  But some of my memories about it are the night after I was living in California at the time, and I was in Southern California in Los Angeles, and a lot of times you don't necessarily think that of a patriotic place.  But I remember hordes of people marching down the streets wearing red, white and blue, and everybody coming together.  That was just a real special thing to see and experience.
Now it's 11 years later now, and it still seems like it was three years later to me.  But that day changed my life as it did so many other people.  I definitely wouldn't be where I am right now if it had never happened.

Q.  Did you go over there to Iraq?
NATE BOYER:  Yes, sir, I went to Iraq.

Q.  What was that like?
NATE BOYER:  I mean, no picnic.  I'll say that.  It's not America.  We're so fortunate here.  It's unbelievable how lucky we are.  Whenever you hear people complaining about stuff like petty stuff, I do it too.  Everybody's guilty of it.  You've just got to stop and think.
For me it's easy to just put things in perspective.  Because over there those people have nothing.  So many of them are happy with the nothing that they have, happier than we are.  So that's inspiring.  Contrary to popular belief, they don't all hate us.
I don't know.  I learned a lot from those people too.  They inspire you in a different way because it's a totally different culture, and they live a different way and a lot of them are very proud of where they come from and what they're all about.
Like I said earlier, to be so content without stuff is something that a lot of us in America don't really understand.

Q.  9/11, did you know right away that you wanted to go into the service and serve or did you take some time before you reached that decision?
NATE BOYER:  When I was in high school, I wanted to join the military and it was something that I looked at.  I ended up not doing it at the time.  Then after 9/11 it definitely ignited that spark again.  I didn't go in right away.  I waited and did some other things.  I actually went over and did some relief work in Africa, in the Darfur region for a while, and it was kind of after coming back from that that I just realized that I wanted to keep doing those things.
Being part of the special forces, it's not just learn how to shoot and be a warrior, necessarily.  You're over there and you're working with indigenous forces and you're training them up and fighting with those guys.  So you're fully immersed in the culture and all that stuff.  So that was something that interested me.
At the time, they opened up a contract where you could come in off the street and if you scored high enough on tests, and I think you had to be 21 at the time, you got a shot to potentially go to selection after basic training and airborne school.  A lot of guys signed up for that, and not that many of us made it through.  But I was fortunate enough to be one of those people, so I got to be with the greatest unit in the Army.

Q.  How does someone go from not playing high school football to all you've been through with the military and now playing on one of the top teams in the country?
NATE BOYER:  Football is something I always wanted to play growing up.  I played other sports, and football just never really worked out.  The high school I ended up graduating from didn't have a team at the time.  They actually do now.  So, yeah.
It was one of those things that I knew I could do it, it just never happened.  I kind of regretted that I guess growing up.  When I was coming out of the military and I was going to be going back to school I figured, why not?  Why not give it a shot.
Obviously, Texas is a great team and a great program and all of that.  But I just felt confident that going through what I had gone through, that I could make the team and help out in any way and at least be a part of it.  So, yeah.  I just got with‑‑ I was in Colorado Springs coming out of the military.  I worked out at a Human Performance Center there the NSCA it's called, national Strength and Conditioning Association.
So some of the guys there had football backgrounds and what not.  So they helped me out with foot work and what not, and then I came down.  I knew I was in good enough shape to do it, so I tried out and made it.

Q.  You call Coach Brown, and he's like who are you?  What are you doing?
NATE BOYER:  I definitely didn't call Coach Brown (laughing).  Yeah, I just came down here and actually met Coach Jeff Madden or Mad Dog as you guys know him, and told him it was something I was interested in doing.  He said, all right.  Just make sure you're in shape and be ready.
They definitely put you through a strenuous tryout.  It's really physically demanding.  But it wasn't anything I couldn't handle.

Q.  You said not playing football was something you always kind of regretted.  Does serving in the military give you a perspective to where you can't live your life with regrets?  Is that part of the reason why you wanted to do this?
NATE BOYER:  Yeah, even before the military, I was always a believer of living without regret.  If there's something you want to do, go do it now, don't wait.  I don't think you're ever too old to do anything.  You've just got to be willing to work harder than everybody else around you.
Part of it was not one to regret it.  But another part of it was just because I knew I could handle it.  I knew it was possible.  I knew a lot of people thought I couldn't, and that it wasn't, so that motivated me also.

Q.  When you were overseas serving, what was one of the hardest things you had to deal with?
NATE BOYER:  I mean, I'm not going to get into specifics about some of the stuff that went on overseas.  But there is a lot.  Everybody that goes over there has a story.  There is a lot of tragedy.  Just really hard stuff to take in and deal with.
But like I said earlier, there is a lot of positive stuff and a lot of inspiring stuff.  You learn more about yourself on the battlefield than you will anywhere.
The mindset we have when we go over there is you're fighting for the guy next to you.  That's it.  That's all that matters.  So I don't know.  When you get into a tough situation like that and bad, scary stuff is going on all around you, if you're focused on that stuff, you don't even really‑‑ like I don't know.  All your fears kind of go away and you just focus in and keep moving forward.

Q.  I'm guessing that Saturday night the nerves struck a little bit when you got in?
NATE BOYER:  Yeah, honestly, I was probably more nervous with that first snap Saturday night than I ever was in Iraq.  I had a lot of people relying on me out there too, and I wanted to do well.
My first snap was my worst snap.  But it all went up from there.  But, yeah, it's definitely a different kind of nerves.  But I think if you're not nervous, you're not a little bit scared in whatever you're doing, you probably shouldn't be doing it.  You should do something a little tougher and challenge yourself a little bit.
Whenever I feel too comfortable in life, I just get bored, so having nerves is a good thing.

Q.  When you got the call to go to Iraq, what was your first reaction?
NATE BOYER:  From the minute I joined the Army, I was doing whatever I could to get to Iraq as soon as I could.  That's what I wanted to do.  That's why I joined.  I joined because I wanted to fight for my country.  As soon as I found out I was going, I was happy.  That's what I wanted to do.  That's why I came in.  I didn't come in for the money.  I joined in a time of war.  If I've got my buddies going over there, risking their lives and fighting for me, then I'm going to do the same thing for them.
Yeah, I was relieved, I'll say, when I got that call.  It was finally my chance to put my training to use and do what I could to help the mission's success.

Q.  What was the difference from that to when you got the call Saturday night?
NATE BOYER:  I guess the difference is‑‑ I mean, it's a big difference.  I've worked hard over the last year learning the snap.  All I wanted was a chance, and that's what the coaches gave me.  I can't thank Coach Brown, and Coach Searels, and Coach Applewhite for giving me a shot.
I mean, I kind of step out of my shoes sometimes and put myself in theirs.  Because I'm always like one day when you're not getting the shot you think you deserve, you're always wondering why, but you've got to put yourself on their side and say, look, I'm 31.  I just started snapping last year.  I've never played football before.  If I was a coach, I don't know if I'd put that guy in either.
But they're obviously taking a chance with me, just like I've taken a lot of chances in my life.  I know I've got a good work ethic, and they know that I've done what I can over the last year to learn that position and getting better at it every day.

Q.  How did that come about, learning to teach that?  You made the team, and then was it a matter of finding out how to get on the field?
NATE BOYER:  Yeah, last year both the long snappers were seniors.  So I knew they were going to be graduating and I knew we had other people coming in to compete for the position too.  But coaches always say they're looking for depth at every position, so it's just I thought it was the best way that I thought I could be a part of the team and really help out on the field, not just with my leadership.
That's obviously important with all the work I did on scout teams the last couple years too.  But I just thought that it was the best way I could help the team.  So, yeah, I just watched the other deep snappers, picked up a ball and tried to copy them, and just figured it out.
It's just one of those things.  You've got to just do a lot of reps and it's like shooting a free throw.  Once you get the hang of it and you know what it feels like when you get a good one off, you just go from there.

Q.  You were awarded a scholarship before the season started, correct?
NATE BOYER:  Yes, sir.

Q.  What was that like and what was the reaction like from your teammates?
NATE BOYER:  Yeah, when I got off offered the scholarship it was pretty amazing.  I still don't know.  I definitely don't think I deserve it anymore the other walk‑ons.  But I'm not going to turn it down.  I also know a lot of the reasons I was given the scholarship.  It's not necessarily for the work I've done on the field, but it's a lot of the work that, the work ethic and the leadership.
It still doesn't even feel ‑‑ it feels like I'm a walk‑on, because, I mean, I am a walk on.

Q.  What is your favorite nickname?  Old man, Grandpa, Army or America?
NATE BOYER:  I'd like to say America.  That's my favorite, no question.

Q.  Can you just give us the details on the years you were active duty, and how many years?
NATE BOYER:  I went on active duty for five years.  Now I'm in the National Guard.  So I'm actually still in through the guard.  There are some special forces units in the guard.  Where for me I'll deploy in the summertime for a little bit and go overseas and do some work, then I'll come back before school starts.

Q.  So this last summer you went?
NATE BOYER:  Yes, sir, yeah.

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