Springfield High School senior Brandon Rice (front row center) will play golf at Missouri Valley College next year. TYLER GRAVES

Springfield High School senior Brandon Rice (front row center) will play golf at Missouri Valley College next year. TYLER GRAVES

Two weeks ago, Springfield’s Brandon Rice officially signed with Missouri Valley College to play golf.

The signing marks the sixth Springfield student athlete to further their athletic careers at the college level, the most in one year in the school’s history.

Rice’s initial plan was to play golf at Hiwassee College in Madisonville, Tenn., but financial reasons ultimately led to the school shutting down. It was then that Rice found Missouri Valley.

“I started playing golf my freshmen year and really taking it seriously,” Rice said. “My senior year I made it to regionals. I played really well and shot a 72, but didn’t make it to state. I was originally going to another college, but they’re closing, so I visited Missouri Valley and fell it love with it. The campus was really nice and they had great facilities, so I decided to sign there.”

Located in Marshall, Missouri, the Missouri Valley College Vikings compete in the Heart of America Conference, of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).

“After his first college closed, he spent the past month just grinding to get his name out there and talking to coaches,” Rice’s mother Marica Rice said. “It was amazing to see him really work hard for what he wanted to do. He’s been playing golf since he was seven years old, but he didn’t really get into it until right before high school. He was always a baseball player, and he was just burnt out on that, so he decided to become a golfer. And that’s what he put his mind to. Seven days a week on the golf course.” 

Christian Spicer, an assistant golf professional and instructor at the Legacy Golf Course in Springfield, has worked with Rice for several years and been influential in his progress as a golfer.

“I’ve been teaching golf lessons for five years now and Brandon was one of my first students,” Spicer said. “To see from where he started to now and to see the work ethic he’s had is just unbelievable. To see him finally sign with a college and realize one of his dreams has been awesome. He’s actually the first student I’ve had to get to the next level.”

Rice also marks the first college signee for his high school coach, Todd Babbington.

“This is my fourth year as coach here, and Brandon came in with me my first year,” Babbington said. “I’ve seen Brandon since he was a freshman and we’ve been through the ups and downs of golf. He’s made a lot of strides and improvements. He’s worked extremely hard and I’m glad to see that hard work pay off for him with a scholarship to go do what he loves.”

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