#BroncosInTheCommunity: Karyna Armstrong
Dec. 15, 2015

As our more than 450 student-athletes turn their focus to finishing the fall 2015 semester during finals week, Boise State Athletics wants to honor their achievements off the field by focusing on the work they have done throughout the community since starting the school year. Each day this week, BroncoSports.com will highlight one of the many examples of Broncos giving back to the community that gives so much to them and the athletic department. While their accomplishments in their respective field of play are what garners the most attention, the work done beyond athletics - both in school and in the community - makes us proud every day. Good luck during finals week to all of our student-athletes.

The Ada County Juvenile Court Services (ACJCS) serves nearly 2,900 youth and families with a 71-bed detention facility, 60 detention staff members, 40 probation officers and several courtrooms, judges, prosecutors and public defenders. With the proper infrastructure already in place to help Ada County youth, the ACJCS decided that they needed one more ingredient -- hope.

Even though they knew they were in a bad situation, they still saw the light at the end of the tunnel. They were still children, and they still were able to laugh and mess around with us.

They recruited hope in the form of Boise State track and field athletes Karyna Armstrong and Courtney Hutchinson, along with Bronco softball players Ariel Frantz, Izzy Serrano, Laina Holmgren and Kaelie Doyle. The six student-athletes recently made a trip to the ACJCS in October and got a glimpse into the resiliency that was present throughout the detention center.

"It was cool to see that even though they knew they were in a bad situation, they still saw the light at the end of the tunnel," Armstrong said. "They were still children, and they still were able to laugh and mess around with us."

A double major in criminal justice and political science, and having already toured the facility with one of her classes, Armstrong entered the community service day with a certain level of understanding of some of the issues that the kids were facing. With kids anywhere from 10 to 18 years of age staying in the detention center, Armstrong and the rest of the Broncos started the visit with an informal question and answer session.

As one would expect, the Q&A started off slowly with most of the kids asking the athletes what it's like competing at the collegiate level. After a while the tougher questions began to come out, with the kids wanting to know what kind of adversity the student-athletes fought through to eventually become Broncos.

"A lot of the questions were about what our childhood was like, and if we knew anyone who had a really bad past, but was still able to overcome it," Armstrong said.

Armstrong and the rest of the Bronco student-athletes shared stories of people they have known who overcame bad decisions and moved on to have successful lives. They might have felt worlds apart when the day started, but by the end the kids realized how attainable a successful future really is.

"The community looks at the student-athletes here at Boise State under a microscope, but in a good way," Armstrong explained. "For most of those kids, athletics is a major part of their lives. So to be a college athlete and to be able to go there and tell them that this isn't the end of their life and they can still come out of this and do something good with their life, I think it's really important."

After the Q&A ended, the student-athletes spent another hour together playing knockout basketball with the kids, many of whom showed off a high level of athletic ability. Two full hours of serious dialogue combined with lighthearted activity brought the visit to an end, both parties leaving more inspired than when they arrived.

Since Armstrong and the other Bronco student-athletes visited the detention center that day in October, the volleyball team also took a trip in November and the football team is planning a trip once their season concludes in January.

"Now everyone talks about it and all the athletes want to go," Armstrong said. "The kids were great, so awesome. I can't wait to go back."

To learn more about the ACJCS and potential ways to help, visit https://adacounty.id.gov/Juvenile-Court.

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