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Molly Carter, former Drury basketball standout and marketing director of the Springfield Neurological and Spine Institute, says her athletic experience helped her learn time management skills that are useful in her work.
Molly Carter, former Drury basketball standout and marketing director of the Springfield Neurological and Spine Institute, says her athletic experience helped her learn time management skills that are useful in her work.

From Players to Professionals

Posted online
After the final buzzers sound on the sports careers of young athletes who build names for themselves in the Ozarks, many of them stay and get to work making their marks in the business community.

Among them is Molly Carter, who graduated from Drury University in 2008 after becoming the school’s second all-time leading scorer in women’s basketball.

The Springfield native went to Drury after graduating from Kickapoo High School, where she received all-state honors and helped lead the team to two state titles.

In her career as a Lady Panther, she helped Drury’s team compile a 112-19 record and four NCAA-II tournament appearances, including one Elite Eight trip.

Today, Carter is the marketing director for CoxHealth’s Springfield Neurological and Spine Institute LLC, a job she landed in July 2008 after a serendipitous encounter.

“I wasn’t really looking for a job because I was getting my master’s at Drury. I actually had some classes with Brian Williams, the president of Springfield Neurological and Spine,” Carter said. “He (knew) I had gotten my undergraduate degree in marketing and management when this position opened up. He asked if I’d interview and take a look at it. I interviewed and the rest is history.”

Chris Harville, a Logan-Rogersville High School graduate and basketball standout at Missouri State University 1987–90, now works as senior vice president and commercial loan officer at Empire Bank, which he joined in October.

“I was a finance major in college, and after graduation I went up to Kansas City and worked for a couple financial firms, insurance firms, primarily. I had an opportunity to join the old Boatmen’s Bank up there, and I took that opportunity and have been in banking ever since,” said Harville, who was able to return to the Ozarks after Nations Bank purchased Boatmen’s. The entity now is Bank of America. Before joining Empire, he worked at Liberty Bank and Guaranty Bank.

Harville played under legendary college coach Charlie Spoonhour, who died Feb. 1, and was part of MSU’s first NCAA tournament teams. Harville said he keeps track of a handful of coaches and players from his playing days who still live in the area, including players Kelby Stuckey and Pat Bauer.  Stuckey is now an attorney at Lathrop & Gage in Springfield and Bauer is a local dentist.

Shared benefits
A common theme among former athletes seems to be that what they learned in sports translates into their professional lives long after their playing days have ended.

For Wayne Dipper, managing partner and chief operating officer at KPM Technology LLC, a Springfield information technology services company, sports experience instilled a sense of determination that has served him well in his career.

Dipper was the captain of his high school football and baseball teams in Republic in the late 1980s.

“We did have some good teams in the ’80s. We were ranked No. 1 in the state in football and went to the state semi-finals three times in my career in my sophomore, junior and senior years,” said Dipper, who played running back. “(In baseball), I was a pitcher and an outfielder, and we won our conference and districts in my senior year.”

Dipper played baseball briefly at Crowder College and with a semipro league in Ozark. During his junior year at MSU, he went to work for Heatway, which is now Watts Radiant. He earned his degree in computer science in 1994, and worked for Watts Radiant for a total of nine years, building a software program that designed radiant heating systems for wholesalers and contractors. That software, along with another redesign project Dipper led, increased annual sales to $28 million from $7 million in six years, he said.

Watts Radiant’s buyout of Heatway led Dipper, who also holds a master’s degree from Webster University,  to seek new employment. He joined KPM Technology in 2001 and became the firm’s youngest partner just two years later.

“In high school, if you’re on a team that wants to compete at a state level, there’s a lot of work that goes into that,” Dipper said. “And in college when you play with other guys who come out of high school and are all great, you have to have some sort of drive to win and be better than the rest. I think that has carried over.

“To become a managing partner, I had a drive to do that. I wanted to excel,” Dipper said.   

Carter said her sports experience helped her learn to manage her time. During her Drury basketball days, she worked out with the team during the summers, and graduated early, beginning her master’s work in the spring semester of her fourth year of school.

“I think when you play a sport, time management is huge,” Carter said. “And I think that whole mentality translates into the work force. You get out what you put in, and it’s the same with sports. If you work hard and do your job right, you’re going to see results.”

For the 6'9" Harville, the fact that fans in the community often still recognize him is useful professionally.

“Face recognition and reputation are helpful in any career, and it has been helpful for me,” he said.

Sports connections
While Harville doesn’t play anymore, he’s still engaged in sports through his three children. He said he and his wife have encouraged them to be active, mainly because sports teach the value of competition and hard work. Son Taylor Harville, who is 6'7", is somewhat following in his father’s footsteps. A varsity basketball player at Parkview High School, the younger Harville plans to play ball at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.

Carter, however, hasn’t completely quit hitting the court. She still plays in summer pro-am leagues with current and former area players, and she also trains youth players.

“I was a student of basketball for so long and I had some great coaches to learn from, and so it’s fun to share my expertise now that I’ve matured,” Carter said.[[In-content Ad]]

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