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By Michael Boyd Jr.
HERALD SPORTS EDITOR
When Bryce Giesler inked his National Letter of Intent in November to play college football at NCAA Division I Lindenwood University, his lifelong passion since playing Ste. Genevieve Impact youth football finally was displayed on paper right in front of him. That dream was official.
Now, just 66 days till the beginning of the 2023 collegiate season, the Valle Catholic all-American, all-state, state-champion running back is already hard at it, getting his personal workouts in for the St. Charles-based Lions.
Giesler knows the level competition that lies ahead. D1 is the cream of the crop in all college sports, especially football. And only a handful of the local greats from this county have ever played D1 football.
The Lions joined the ever-tough Ohio Valley Conference last season in their first venture at D1, so there is plenty of work to do for the entire roster, especially with reigning OVC champion and national tournament qualifier Southeast Missouri State RedHawks on the schedule.
Giesler, the son of Brian and Beth Giesler, is not sure if he will receive a non-medical redshirt this season, but for now he is excited for the opportunity.
“It’s a dream come true,” Giesler said of playing in the OVC. “All their games are streamed on ESPN+ so it’s a great opportunity for me to represent Valle and the town of Ste. Genevieve in a great way and I’m really looking forward to it. We play at Kansas next year so that will be fun to play a Big XII school.”
Lindenwood was not the only D1 school to take a look at him, but he chose the Lions over fellow D1 programs SEMO and Truman State, as well as a host of D2 schools. Several NAIA schools also made offers.
In the end, the beautiful campus of LU, a private school, was the place he wanted to continue his career and academics.
“Picking Lindenwood was an easy decision,” Giesler said. “The culture there is very similar to Valle, the campus was the nicest one I visited, and the coaches are amazing people. I’m probably too small to play defense at a D1 school, but I wouldn’t mind playing some wide receiver.”
He probably could.
Giesler has had a standout career on the gridiron, beginning with the Impact youth tackle football club and later in high school with the Warriors.
His skills helped Valle win their 15th and last state football title in 2019. Giesler also played baseball and track at VCHS, but football was his love.
“Football players were my superheroes,” Giesler said. “I knew football was the sport for me when my first ever carry in Impact tackle football was a touchdown. Ever since I experienced the feeling of scoring a touchdown I’ve been in love with football. The passion I have for such a brutal sport is the adrenaline rush that comes with it. Running away from people trying to take my head off is fun to me.”
It all started with youth football as a family discussion changed everything.
“My first year playing Impact was in fourth grade,” said Giesler, who also has an identical twin brother, Brandon, who played football as well. “It’s a funny story because my parents didn’t want me to play tackle football until seventh grade, but when we moved to Ste. Genevieve from Kansas City, the only football was tackle so they let me play. I played until fifth grade. That was my first year playing running back.”
The rest was history, bulldozing his way through the Show-Me state ever since, or at least outrunning everyone once he found open space. Tackle him if you dare.
Giesler earned several all-state selections, plus a Blue-Grey All-American honor, is a four-time all-conference selection as well, and a KTJJ Dream Team pick — all at running back.
He also got to play in the Blue-Grey All-American game at AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys earlier this year, one of three all-star team games for the running back.
Needless to say, football became life. And what a ride it has been.
“It’s tough to remember where exactly my love for football came from,” Giesler said, “but I would say my family had the biggest influence in it. Ever since me and my brother were young, we’ve watched NFL games with my dad every Sunday. Also, all my family members played football so it was in my blood.”
In his blood, alright. He and his brother Brandon have had a long and glorious football career. Their younger sister Brooklyn also is an up-and-coming athlete, mainly in softball.
And they all owe it to their parents, as well a few coaches along the way.
“I couldn’t thank my parents enough,” Giesler said. “They made countless sacrifices to get me to the places I needed to be. All of the coaches supported me and helped me become a better player as well. They all helped me through the rough times of the recruiting process. They made sure I kept my trust in God’s plan for me. They all are a huge part of my success and I’ll forever be grateful for them.”
As for Valle Schools?
“Life at Valle was a blessing,” he said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. The thing I’ll miss the most is how close everyone is. We’re all friends here and we all root for each other to succeed.”
The Lions are new to D1 after numerous years in the NAIA, followed by a several more at NCAA D2.
Lindenwood finished 7-3 overall, but 1-3 in the OVC during the 2022 season. It had replaced Murray (Ky.) State University in the OVC as MSU had moved to the Missouri Valley Football Conference.
Giesler joins Jeremy Hoog (Valle HS, Missouri State U.), Kory Faulkner (Ste. Genevieve, Southern Illinois-Carbondale), Adam Schwent (Ste. Genevieve, SEMO) and Nathan Grass (Valle, SEMO) as D1 football athletes from the county.