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Becoming a Tornado

Gracie Spangler signs to serve and volley with the Brevard Tornados


She has lived a good part of her young life in a family van or a team bus traveling to sports. Now, Gracie Spangler is taking her tennis talents to the mountains.

Spangler signed a National Letter of Intent on Friday to play collegiate tennis at Brevard College, rounding out the family’s connections to colleges and athletics.

Her mom Kim drove the Spangler brothers Pierce and Payton to football and baseball and Gracie was always along for the ride. The family supported dad Tommy as Presbyterian College head football coach during a successful career and now they travel to Furman for his defensive secondary’s games there. At some points in 2021, you could find Tommy and Payton on the Clinton Red Devil sideline, with Kim and Pierce watching from stairs leading to Keith Richardson Field at Wilder Stadium. Gracie was somewhere in the stands, likely the students’ section; she has played Red Devil varsity girls’ tennis since she was in the 7th grade.

She got interested in 4th or 5th grade - she hit her first ball over the fence, something that baseball standouts Pierce and Payton would admire. “I came home and told my mom, I think this where I can be successful,” Gracie said.

She has played #3 and #4 singles during her career. Her most memorable moment was in Upstate SC’s tennis capital - Belton - during the Hall of Fame tournament, advancing to the doubles finals against AC Flora. One reason it was memorable, there was a hurricane coming, although the day turned out perfect weather for tennis (in high school, the girls’ season is in the fall). She was contacted by Johnson University, Columbia College, Newberry College and Piedmont College, but “(those) never really felt right,” she said. “Brevard is very laid back.”

CHS Athletics Director Louie Alexander told Gracie and her family, “You and several others have built our program to where it is. Brevard College is a great place to go. I’m proud of you and wish you nothing but the best.”

Spangler is unsure of a major but whatever she decides, she’s pretty sure she’ll stay on for at least a Master’s degree. Brevard’s experimental learning program allow students to investigate their interests. She has thought about coaching.

“I’ve seen a lot of sports,” Gracie said. “That’s all I grew up around.”

More about Brevard women's tennis here.