Local retired bankers Bill and Norma Pace of Mammoth Spring will soon be making trips to Starkville, Miss., to see their granddaughter, Abby Risner, play soccer in the Southeast Conference for the Mississippi State Bulldogs.
Abby, the daughter of Chad and Tammy Risner of Bentonville, signed her national letter of intent on Feb. 3, though she had verbally committed to MSU in September of 2009.
The last few years Abby has traveled the USA playing for one of the top 10 soccer teams in the country, based in Tulsa, Okla.
She travels to Tulsa twice a week for practice and last year played in college showcases from North Carolina to San Diego, from Disney to Houston and on to Las Vegas.
Her success in the Olympic Development Program brought her letters of interest from over 50 universities.
She had offers from and took visits to Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, TCU, Baylor, Tulsa, Alabama and Mississippi State.
She is the first soccer player from Arkansas to be offered scholarships from any Big 12 or SEC schools in the last three years.
She was ranked in the top 20 goal keepers in the nation for three consecutive years and is currently ranked in the top 25 players (of all positions) in the south by a national recruiting source, Topdrawer.com.
Abby attends Bentonville High School and will graduate this spring.
Over the last three years, the Lady Tiger soccer team has a record of 60-6, including 50 shutouts with Abby in goal.
They played in the 7A state championship game all three years, winning the championship twice and only missed the third one by a double-overtime loss and they are the favorites to win it again this year.
"We are excited that she will be able to live out her dream of playing college soccer at the highest level of competition in SEC, plus getting her college paid for at the same time. It's really a dream come true for her and we couldn't be happier for her or more proud of her," said her grandparents, Bill and Norma Pace.