Former Rebel and two-time All-American, Kristi Boxx, is blessed with a great family, friends and the talent that led her to become one of the top players in the history of Ole Miss women's tennis. The Grenada, Miss., native recently wrapped up an outstanding career, becoming just the second player in the history of the program to achieve 200 wins combined in both singles and doubles.
For Boxx, life is about more than tennis. It's important to her to give back what she's been given, and for her that means helping others less fortunate. This summer Boxx spent time in Corumba, a very small town on the border of Bolivia and Brazil.
"It's considered a small city, but it's still over a million in population," said Boxx, who traveled there for the third time in as many years. "It's very bare there. Some just have what they need, and a lot don't have any running water."
Boxx traveled to the small town via an organization called Grace International Miracle (GIM) Ministries. She got involved through a family in Oxford, and it just so happens her two roommates are from Brazil.
"They've been going to the same area for 20-plus years, and they have built at least five churches in this area," Boxx said. "Every time we go back we work with a different church. I've been to different places each time I've gone and met different people."
Among the things they did this time, Boxx said they set up medical care in an old building and offered the message of God while people waited to see a doctor.
"There were four rooms in this building. In the front room they created a triage where the patients waited, and before seeing the doctor, they would go through evangelism," she said. "Everyone that came got a Bible, and they would hear the gospel. We had eyeglasses too, because a lot of them can't afford glasses. To sit there and watch them open the glasses and look at the Bible and be able to read it, it was so cool."
While the women taught Bible study, Boxx said some of the guys worked on building a missionary farm. The plan is to have dorms on the land where they can take people off the streets and teach them a skill so they can eventually leave the farm and go make a living.
Boxx has also done mission work in West Africa before and on the Navajo Indian Reservation in Arizona, which she described as like a third-world country.
"A lot of them didn't speak English, and they didn't have paved roads, and the houses were very small. It was very eye-opening," Boxx said.
"I feel like everyone needs to go on some kind of international mission trip just to get a different perspective, because here we see the same thing all the time, and it's what's normal, but not everyone lives like us. Compared to the rest of the world we live like kings and queens, and so I'm very thankful that I've gotten to go. Now I appreciate things more."
It's been a whirlwind summer for Boxx, who recently got engaged. She is spending time in Oxford this semester working out with the team and training for the pro circuit. Later this fall, Boxx plans to compete in some tournaments in doubles with another native Mississippian, Keri Wong, who earned All-America honors at Clemson.
Boxx says she plans to try and continue her mission work whenever possible.
"Life in and of itself should be a mission trip. It shouldn't be, you go on a mission trip and then you come back and go about your normal life," she said. "My life in general is like tennis, I'm playing for the Lord and not for myself. Whenever I have the opportunity to go and serve, if I can make it happen, then I'm going to do it."