BEAVER FALLS (KDKA) — Out in Beaver County, at tiny Geneva College, there’s an incredible story going on with the basketball team.
At the school that, appropriately enough, boasts the oldest college basketball program in the country, Brian Rice, at 43, is the oldest player in Geneva College history.
“Forty-three is not too old,” Brian says with a smile. “I’m just beginning life.”
It’s a basketball life that looked like it would take off after graduating New Castle High School in 1987 with an offer to play Division II ball. But college hoops would have to wait.
“I just knew I wasn’t ready,” Brian said. “I didn’t have the discipline to go to college.”
So instead, Brian decided to join the Navy where he would remain for two and a half decades, but there was always one constant.
“I’ve been to over 60 countries, and each place I’ve gone, I’ve played basketball,” Brian says. “Whether it’s on a ship or station shore duty, I’ve always been on base team.
“After the Navy, I wanted to go to school, but didn’t know where, and found Geneva,” he added. “I was still playing basketball quite a bit and the wheels started turning. I wonder if I can get out here and play with these guys.”
Jeff Santarsiero, head coach at Geneva, wasn’t sure what to think.
“I got a call from Ralph Blundo at New Castle High School,” Santarsiero remembers. “He said, ‘I’ve got a player for you.’ And he said, ‘Well, wait a minute, it’s not your usual player — he’s a little older.’ And I said how much older, and he said 43, and we joked a little bit. But he said he doesn’t look 43 and he can play.”
He could play so much, that Brian made the team.
“All the coaches are sitting there looking at me,” Brian said, “And they said, ‘You’ve made the team.’ That was a relief.”
And now Brian is a 43-year-old freshman forward, with quite a lesson for others.
“Never give up on your dreams,” he says. “Never give up on your dreams. No matter how old it is, doesn’t have to be a sport. It could be going back to school, getting a GED, Associate’s degree. You’re never too old. You’re only as old as you think you are.”
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