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Aspen High’s Joel Brice to play college soccer

Dale Strode
The Aspen Times
Joel Brice of the Aspen Skiers (10) will play NCAA Division II soccer next season at William Jewel College in Liberty, Missouri.
Aubree Dallas/The Aspen Times |

Joel Brice dreamed of an opportunity to play college soccer.

On Wednesday, Brice officially signed to make his dream come true.

The Aspen High School senior all-state soccer player signed a national letter of intent to play at William Jewel College in Liberty, Missouri, an NCAA Division II school.

Surrounded by his parents, teachers, administrators and classmates, Brice signed his dream papers in the Skier Dome at Aspen High School on national letter of intent day.

“He’s worked very, very had for this … Obviously, he’s got the talent out on the field … But it’s more about the work ethic.”Aspen head coach Dave Francis

“It’s going to be a challenge, but I’m ready to take it,” Brice said, adding that he will have to improve his overall game to step up to college soccer. “Looking up more, passing quicker, making more runs … using both feet more … everything.”

Brice, a two-time all-conference and all-state soccer player, moved to Aspen from his native England at the start of his freshman year when his father was appointed rector of Aspen’s Christ Episcopal Church.

A dual citizen, Brice was born in the borough of Newham in London and went on to attend Felsted School, a 450-year-old UK boarding school where his father served as chaplain.

A standout in rugby, field hockey and cricket, Brice turned to American football when his family moved to Aspen.

He played on the Aspen High School varsity football team until his junior season when he turned back to soccer, with hopes of eventually playing college soccer.

“Dave (Francis) came new here my junior year. He took it (AHS soccer) from the go and hit the ground running,” Brice said of AHS head coach Dave Francis. “He got us all working really hard.”

The Skiers, after an extended absence from the postseason, charged back into the playoffs under Francis’ guidance.

“He’s a great coach. He helped me get where I am,” Brice said.

Francis said Brice’s hard work and dedication paid off with the invitation to play Division II soccer at William Jewell, a private liberal arts college of 1,500 students.

“He’s worked very, very hard for this,” Francis said. “Obviously, he’s got the talent out on the field. Everyone’s seen that. But it’s more about the work ethic.”

Francis said that Brice worked at his sport, worked at his academics.

“He earned it,” Francis said, adding that college soccer will be a big challenge.

“Going into his freshman year, it will be difficult for him. But he rises to the goal in front of him,” Francis said. “I think it will really open his eyes and bring a new dimension to his game.”

Francis said Brice’s leadership as team captain helped the Skiers get back into the state playoffs.

“Joel was instrumental in the revival of the Aspen High School soccer program,” Francis said “Joel displays a love for the game and for the team aspect of sports. He understands the concept of sports as something greater than just the game.”

Brice, known for aggressive offensive attacks, said he contacted the coaching staff at William Jewell, where his mother attended college.

“I talked to their coach. And my mum went to William Jewel,” Brice said. “So, I had a couple of visits.”

After reviewing his credentials and his video, William Jewel soccer offered Brice a combination athletic/academic scholarship.

“He liked my knowledge of the game, and he liked my speed,” said Brice, who played defensive back in football.

With interest from some other small colleges, Brice said William Jewel stood out.

“And it’s close to my grandparents,” he said.

They live in Raymore, Missouri, which is also near the greater Kansas City metropolitan area.

Brice is a student leader for Aspen Valley Young Life and is a founding member of the Elevation youth group.

He also serves as a soccer coach for Aspen United’s U10 boys team.

“I’ve always liked coaching,” said Brice, the son of Shara and the Rev. Jonathan Brice. “I like working with little kids. I like getting people to where they want to be, which is kind of like what people have helped me do.”

Brice also is a coordinator for Aspen’s Senior-to-Senior intergenerational mentoring program.

He said he plans to study business and sports/fitness at William Jewell.

William Jewel is in the Great Lakes Valley Conference, an NCAA Division II conference similar to the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (Colorado Mesa, Colorado School of Mines, Adams State, Western State, CSU-Pueblo, Fort Lewis). Other Grand Lakes Valley schools include Rockhurst, Drury, Quincy, Missouri-St. Louis, Missouri Science and Technology, Bellarmine, Wisconsin-Parkside, Southern Indiana and Truman State

Brice’s sister Crichelle is a student at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas.

dstrode@aspentimes.com


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