A talented basketball and tennis player, Steve Grace entered Drury in the era before athletic scholarships. "You came to Drury for school, and if you had an ability in a certain sport that was a bonus," he recalls. "I chose Drury because of its pre-med reputation rather than athletics." He may have focused on school, but Steve Grace was one of the best Drury athletes ever. "I think I'm the only person who got to go to nationals in both basketball and tennis," he says. The record books confirm his memory, showing that he played in NAIA championships in both sports.
Steve also holds another remarkable Drury record. On Feb. 20, 1965, he scored 45 points in a game at Missouri Valley College, and today holds onto Drury's record for the most points scored in a single game. "That was before the three-point rule," he chuckles. "I would have loved to have the three-point rule." The fans would have loved that too.
As he succeeded on the tennis and basketball courts, Steve Grace also faced his academic challenges as a premedical student. Balancing school and sports was a constant challenge, especially under the watchful eye of faculty like biology chair Dr. Lora Bond. "Dr. Bond didn't think I balanced it very well," says Grace, since his practice schedules prevented him from taking some afternoon honors classes.
But the interplay between academic and athletic demands forced Grace to budget his time. There was "a little less socializing," he says. "We spent time getting our work done instead. You couldn't put off something, you had to learn to manage your time ... I think that part of athletics helped in medical school and beyond in the rest of my life."
That's not to say there was no time for fun, especially on the road. Grace remembers one trip where the hotel ran out of beds for the basketball team. "The shortest guy ended up sleeping on the mattress out of a crib," says Grace. "He took it out of the crib first, of course." Even now Grace still keeps in touch with many teammates: Bill Gould, who became a teacher in Willard; Harlond Hauck, who moved to Texas; Roland Shultz; Gail Frederick, now an attorney ("I'd rather not have to but sometimes I even see him professionally," jokes Grace); Wade Chase; Steve Hutchinson; Larry O'Reilly and even their old coach, Bill Harding. His tennis teammates, says Grace, have scattered across the country, though he does keep up with Jack Delo, now in St. Louis.
Steve himself followed through on his pre-med plans, attending medical school at the University of Missouri in Columbia. He completed an obstetrics and gynecology residency in Colorado and built a successful practice in Springfield. But the lessons learned in classrooms and at play during his Drury years still linger. "Sometimes you did your best and still lost, but you learned that's the way life is," he says. "You have to learn to accept the best you can do."