Alex Heib admits he didn’t fully realize the significance of the Lt. Daniel P. Riordan scholarship at first, when he was going through the selection process.
It didn’t take him long to understand the magnitude of it.
“That’s a huge honor,” said Heib, a senior and a Riordan scholarship recipient. “I didn’t really realize how big it was until I came into my interview before I was even a freshman and won the scholarship and then went to the first golf tournament and the first trivia night and just realized how much Lt. Dan meant to people and how he was a hero. It’s a huge honor.”
Riordan, a 2001 St. John Vianney High graduate, was killed while courageously serving our country in Iraq in 2007. His legacy lives on at Vianney through the Lt. Daniel P. Riordan Scholarship Fund and the work of his family as well as scholarship recipients like Heib.
“Just being the only one from my class to win that and being chosen to win that, it means a lot,” Heib said. “The Riordans are really great people. Whenever I got to meet them for the first time I realized very fast that these people are special and their son did something really great. Whenever I’m around stuff like that, it gives me goose bumps just because of how much he did for us.”
Heib is honored to represent Riordan’s legacy at Vianney while also carving out one of his own at Vianney.
You could say Heib and his twin brother, Kyle, were destined to be Golden Griffins. Their father, Jeff, played soccer and baseball at Vianney and graduated in 1984.
“I’m from Oakville in South County and my dad went to Vianney,” Alex said. “He went to Saint Margaret Mary for grade school and then went on to Vianney. He was a big soccer player. … Back in the 80’s he played here and he won a state championship. I also have a twin brother and we went Queen of All Saints in South County and we both kind of always knew we wanted to go to Vianney just cause our dad went there and it’s where a lot of Oakville and South County kids go.”
Heib serves as an ambassador, is part of the Letterman’s Club, was a Griffin Guide for his first two years and has been a four-year member of the varsity golf team.
“He’s just a very hard-working kid,” Vianney golf coach Don Owens said. “He always has been. Golf is his passion. I’m sure he would play golf every day, and he probably gets close to that anyway. He’s either going to play or practice. He’s very dedicated to the game. He’s been to state three years in a row and if goes this year he’ll be the second guy in Vianney history to ever do that. He’s very dedicated to what he does.”
Heib finished 50th Missouri Class 4 championship as a freshman, 58th as a sophomore and 44th a year ago as a junior.
“I’m hoping to make it for the fourth year in a row as an individual and hopefully get the team to state,” Heib said. “Since I’ve been here we’ve never been to state as a team. That’s always been another one of my goals since I got here. That’s the main goal this season is to get the team to state.”
“As an individual I’ve done well. I’ve been to state for three years. I tied for first at the Winghaven Tournament last year. I’ve had numerous top five finishes in high school golf but in the state championship I’ve never medaled, which is really kind of a burden on my shoulders, something I’m missing that I really want and am hoping to get this year. Hopefully winning state, obviously, but I want to at least medal this year.”
Golf has been a big part of his life since he was young. Heib said he first picked up one of his father’s clubs when he was 5, taking a left-handed club (he is right-handed) to the back yard and hitting some balls.
That first taste of the sport turned into Heib asking his father to take him golfing, which turned into countless trips to Tower Tee and then later his family joining Sherwood Country Club in Oakville. It is there where Heib said he learned the game and grew as a golfer, with help from his father.
“My dad just kind of taught me, even though he really didn’t know that much about the game either,” Heib said. “He kind of learned it as I was learning it. He would go home and read books about the golf swing and how to teach the golf swing. Whenever I turned 13 I won the Gateway Junior PGA championship, as a 13 year old, and that’s kind of when I knew I could play, I could do this in college. That’s when I knew I wanted to carry on golf longer than just the next few years.”
That goal is one step closer to fruition after Heib recently made a commitment to continue his golf career at Spring Hill College, a Jesuit, Catholic school in Mobile, Ala.
“It’s always been on my radar because I have known a few people who went there and said they really enjoyed it,” Heib said. “I’ve always wanted to go south for college to play golf just because of the weather. Spring Hill is in such a good location. It’s about 30 minutes from Gulf Shores, an hour and 15 minutes from New Orleans and like an hour and 15 minutes, an hour and a half from Destin.”
When he goes away to college in a few months, Heib will take with him the life lessons he has learned throughout his four years at St. John Vianney High School and memories of the school and classmates that will last him a lifetime.
“Vianney has helped me academically, but more as a person,” Heib said. “The people here have turned me into the man I am today. I have become stronger in my faith and become a much more driven person because of Vianney. This place has prepared me for the next step in my life.”