The Stoughton resident, who has coached the men's and women's cross country and indoor and outdoor track & field teams, will be inducted into the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Hall of Fame in December.
EASTON – Her list of achievement have piled up while coaching cross country and track & field for more than two decades at Stonehill College.
Karen Boen has guided the Skyhawks women's and men's teams to 37 Northeast-10 Conference championships, coached more than 70 Division 2 All-America athletes and received coach of the year recognition 64 times.
It has been quite a career for the Stoughton resident, a career that began when she was hired as Stonehill's part-time women's cross country coach in 1997.
Now, Boen is receiving national recognition for all that she has done while coaching the six women's and men's programs from August through May.
Boen will be inducted into the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Hall of Fame during a ceremony in Orlando, Florida, on Dec. 17. She will be joined by Joe Piane of Notre Dame, Rollie Geiger of North Carolina State, Bobby Lang of Florida A&M, Dr. Jack Daniels of SUNY Cortland and the late Dan Stimson of William & Mary.
"It's exciting,″ said Corey Thomas, a 2013 Stonehill graduate who won the national championship in the high jump at the 2011 indoor meet. "It's about time.″
Mario Fraioli, a 2004 graduate and the school's first male All-America in cross country who set eight Stonehill records, said the honor is a fitting one.
"I lit up when I received the news of Coach being inducted into the Hall of Fame,″ wrote Mario Fraoli in an email. "What she has done for the student-athletes who have come through the program since 1997 is nothing short of incredible. It's a well deserved honor and overdue recognition for one of the best and most underappreciated coaches in the country.″
Boen was working in the cardiology department at Morton Hospital and raising three children with husband Carl when she started coaching at Stonehill at the age of 40.
The original plan was to have Boen coach the women's cross country team for a year, but she developed a strong liking for the job and eventually quit the hospital job and became the full-time coach for men's and women's cross country plus indoor and outdoor track.
"I never imagined me staying, never mind reaching this pinnacle,″ said Boen. "It's just something I always had a passion for. It was nuts (leaving Morton Hospital). Everybody thought I was nuts. I was making good money and had gone to school for a long time.″
There was no track & field facility at Stonehill until W.B. Mason Stadium opened in 2005, so there would be road trips to find places to have the athletes work out.
"Carl was coaching basketball at Southeastern Regional and I used to have to drive the athletes over there to climb over a fence if the track wasn't open,″ said Boen. "They'd get their workout in. We'd drive to Stoughton or Easton if there was a meet going on at Southeastern. We'd drive around looking for a track.″
Former director of athletics Paula Sullivan was committed to making the track & field programs work, and the hiring of Boen plus the opening of the stadium opened the door to success.
"I didn't have any big recruits. I didn't have a budget, didn't have a track,″ said Boen, who will be the assistant track & field coach while continuing as the head cross country coach starting this year. "There wasn't a lot of tradition. But I had a great mentor in Paula Sullivan. I remember her alumni (from women's basketball) coming back for something and me being so impressed that these many people felt such a connection that they returned.
"I thought, 'Wow, if I could do this, I want to do it like that, have it be very disciplined but fun.' She was a phenomenal mentor to me.″
The Stonehill teams kept piling up the success starting with cross country in the fall, then indoor track in the winter and outdoor track in the spring.
There were numerous East Regional titles and trips to the NCAA Division 2 Championships.
Nicole Borofski, of Plymouth, a 2017 graduate, was an All-America runner in cross country and indoor and outdoor track & field in addition to being an All-Northeast-10 Conference and All-East Regional champion.
Borofski credits the guidance of Boen for getting her to an elite level during four years at Stonehill.
"I wouldn't have had any of the success I had without her,″ said Borofski. "I showed up as a very average high school runner and had a phenomenal career. It's all thanks to her. There's no one more deserving of this honor than her.
"She's so dedicated day in and day out. She just knows everyone so well. I don't think most other coaches take the time to get to know their athletes as closely as she does. She knows everyone inside and out, knows their tendencies, what works for them and doesn't work for them.″
Thomas was an elite high jumper and hurdler who appeared in the NCAA Championships all eight times in his career while becoming an All-America and national champion.
"She was really important to me,″ said Thomas. "She always knew what to say. She was able to bring the leadership quality out of me. She knew how to get me into that role.
"There were moments I would start losing my focus and my mind would be going 1,000 miles per hour. She'd be like, all right, calm down. She'd get me zeroed in on doing what I had to do. She always had your back no matter what.″
Fraioli said his improvement as a runner over four years came because of the work Boen did in shaping him as an athlete.
"I would have run through a wall for Coach if she asked me to. No questions asked,″ wrote Fraioli. "That's how much I trusted her. I'm a very skeptical person by nature and admittedly could be a tough athlete to coach, but she had my full respect, belief and trust.
"The most impressive thing about Coach wasn't how much she knew about training or how fit she could get you for race day. It was how much she cared about you as a person. This made a big impression on me right away and is something I still carry with me to this day.″
Boen grew up in South Boston and credits a summer sports camp that was held at Boston University each year with ramping up her love for sports.
She attended South Boston High before transferring to Braintree High as a senior, then started running for coach John Laverty at Bridgewater State in the 1970s.
Boen did some coaching at Braintree while student-teaching and again at East Stroudsburg while in graduate school, but it wasn't until Sullivan hired her at Stonehill two decades later that a Hall of Fame coaching career got going.
"I was just going to fill in for a year, but I enjoyed it,″ said Boen. "I thought (the programs) should be better. It was one of those things like I'll stick around another year and see if I can make it a little better.″
Boen made the programs a lot better and is going to be inducted into a national Hall of Fame for her achievements.