The 14 Year Experience

Go Colonels? Or, is it Go Eagles…


Unfortunately, I am friends with a few students who will call their alma mater Latin. The last time I spoke with one of them, we started comparing the two schools. Of course that went astray very quickly. We both brought up topics such as College Counseling, statistics, location, tuition, and buildings. However, the final punch was sports. Our weakness. 

In a taunting manner and a smirk, one friend said, “When was the last time Parker won against Latin?” To my dismay, an answer worked its way onto my tongue. I responded with, “The Parker robotics team beat you.” (This was before this year’s White Out Game, the softball team, and the field hockey team beat Latin. So I guess progress is on the horizon!!)

I have never heard such a heinous, vile, gut-wrenching “WOW” in my entire life. I was taken aback. Awestruck. I wrote some of my college essays about how that moment changed my life. No disrespect to the robotics team as they are currently doing extremely well, but it doesn’t sit well with students that our best sports team plays a sport of which you need to argue why and how it’s a sport. 

If you didn’t pick it up via the title or that introduction, this issue’s column will tackle the grand topic of Parker’s Athletic Department. Given that I am a duo sport captain at Parker (Cross Country and Baseball) and that this is my column, I believe my unsolicited thoughts on this topic might be of some substance. 

Firstly, I would like to say that — surprisingly — this issue will not be as negative as my previous columns. That is for two reasons: karma might get me, and I do believe that the Athletic Department is in a peculiar position. Am I saying that there are no problems? No, there are plenty. What I am saying is that they are in a strange situation; it’s as if they are forever trying to figure out if they have enough time to run a yellow light or not.  

It is hard to establish a strong Parker pride in our sports team under the conditions we currently have. Not only do our sports team suck (no offense), but we can’t do much about it. The main reason we can’t compete with schools like Latin and suburban schools is because we don’t give scholarships. Or at least I don’t think we do (if we do, then our scouting reports must be terrible). Our soccer teams aren’t going to be able to beat a team full of D1 players that started training in the womb, minutes after conception. It’s the unfortunate truth that plagues our athletics department. We just aren’t that good, and in the conditions that Parker has set, we aren’t going to be good for a while. 

But that doesn’t mean we can’t have Parker Pride. I understand that the Athletics department can’t recruit players (but if they can… that’s a whole different story), but they can do a better job of producing and manifesting team spirit and a culture that respects and cheers for our teams. The first thing they need to institute is giving away more Parker merchandise. Not everyone is going to spend $110 on a sweater. Though they are beautiful and comfortable, there needs to be more accessible and free merchandise. For example, for our first Cross Country meet this year, I texted the team to wear Parker gear to the meet to show team camaraderie and spirit. The majority of the little, naive freshmen were quick to panic and text back, “Wait, I don’t have any Parker gear.” I never thought that that was possible, but I quickly realized two important concepts: one, freshman… two, I never got any Parker merchandise when I was in middle school (middle school is going to be featured in the second to last paragraph, so you better keep reading). The freshman’s first Parker spirit gear was our Cross Country’s team item. Poor freshman. 

That highlights a main issue with Parker Pride. Most schools have shirts, hats, water bottles, and a lot of other gear that features their school. But, we don’t have that. One of the best things the athletics department did was give away those free Parker shirts. Everyone was wearing those blue and white shirts. I still do. They need to do more of that. Parker merchandise shouldn’t be unattainable and as expensive as it is. They just need to sacrifice someone’s tuition for the cause. It’s simple economics: take someone’s tuition, inject it into the Parker merchandise fund, and all of a sudden, the prices go down. $40,000 is a lot of money and would help reduce the inflated prices. 

Another issue that hurts Parker’s athletics is the pipeline from middle school into upper school. Surprisingly, Parker does have a middle school athletics program. Most high schoolers learn about the middle school teams when they somehow get priority and take up all the gyms and practice spaces. Other than that, the middle school athletics program is impractical. The retention rate of the transition from middle school to high school is astonishingly low. I was going to write an anecdote about how Parker needs to strengthen their foundation before they can improve the top, but I’m too lazy. Those who are skilled in sports and have a chance of going pro decide to go elsewhere for high school. In short, Parker athletics department needs to find a way of making sure students involved in middle school sports stay for high school. But please, don’t give them priority of the gyms. It’s very annoying. 

There are a lot of other topics I would love to touch on, but as I said, I’m lazy and this is a quick turnaround for an issue. If any of you are still reading (or reading this in general), and want to hear more of my unsolicited thoughts on the athletics department, please mail me a letter. Next issue – the first issue of 2023 – I will write about clubs, committees, and student government (that’s a reference to the popular movie called “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.” Normally, I don’t explain my references, but that one is easily missed). I hope you enjoyed 12 Days, and please enjoy the holidays. See you next year!


All I want for Christmas is you, 

Ben Rachel