After a football game — before he acknowledges his parents or his girlfriend — University of Tennessee at Chattanooga inside linebacker Ty Boeck knows the first person he has to go see.
The same can be said for Howard School assistant coach Troy Boeck, a former UTC football player himself and the 1990 Southern Conference defensive player of the year.
"Ty knows that Emily will give him the business," Troy said with a laugh regarding what would happen if someone else was visited first.
Emily Boeck, Ty's older sister and Troy's daughter, has spastic quadriplegia, a form of cerebral palsy that means "the loss of the use of the entire body," according to cerebralpalsyguidance.com. The website also refers to it as "the most severe of the three types of spastic cerebral palsy" (quadriplegia, diplegia and hemiplegia); Emily's form is marked by the inability to control the legs, arms or body.
It hasn't stopped her from supporting the Mocs and her brother.
"She's awesome," Ty said after a recent practice. "I think I play for her. I do a lot of things for her because she can't.
"She loves coming to the games. Loves watching me play football, and it's really a blessing to see her smiling on the sidelines."
Although there are obvious limitations to Emily's condition, those haven't been evidenced in her ability to voice opinions. Ty — the former Soddy-Daisy High School standout was the Mocs' second-leading tackler last year with 101 stops during his sophomore season — said that no matter how many people are in the crowd, he "always knows where she is" during games.
Troy noted that when coaching, even though he wears a headset, he also knows where Emily is.
"I could always hear her shriek when something good happened, or she'd be really angry when something bad happened," he said. "She would be the first person to let everyone know, 'Hey, you need to be paying attention right here.'"
What Emily has done is expose the Boeck family to an entire community previously unknown to them. She's been to prom; she's been to dances. She was on the homecoming court.
Slowed down? Feeling sorry? Not according to her.
"Emily is special to us, but she's special in a lot of ways," Troy said. "If I've ever had a bad day at work, or if I had something go on that makes me unhappy, I can come in the door and within 10 seconds of being around Emily, all that stuff is in the past. She's just got a charm about her that puts all this stuff in perspective.
"It's been a blessing."
Emily has never missed one of Ty's games, although that streak will unfortunately come to an end Saturday when the Mocs play their lone contest this fall at Western Kentucky at 4 p.m., a matchup that will be available online/streaming via ESPN3, with the radio broadcast on 97.7 FM. Luckily, the SoCon's spring semester schedule will give her eight opportunities to support her brother, with the Mocs' opener set for Feb. 20, 2021, at Finley Stadium against Virginia Military Institute. There's also the possibility of the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.
Speaking after Thursday's practice, Ty said that after the game against Western Kentucky ends, he plans on riding with family back to Chattanooga from Bowling Green, then going to his parents' house to rewatch the game with his sister.
It's a day the Mocs are happy to have arrive, after months of training — made unique by the conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic, the reason for the SoCon season's delay — and a month of practice to prepare for the Hilltoppers of the Football Bowl Subdivision and Conference USA. It will come with a $350,000 paycheck for UTC, but the Mocs on the field would obviously like to reap their own rewards.
"I'm excited where our team's at," Ty said. "I definitely think we've got the right mindset going up there. It's going to be all about how we bring it, you know? I think we're going to control that game, the way we play, especially on defense.
"They've got some playmakers. If we can make some plays on defense, we're going to be good."
After the game Ty knows that once he gets back to Chattanooga, the person who's going to be waiting on him, the first person he'll want to see upon arriving, is Emily.
There better not be anyone else.