By CINDY CROSBY
Behind every student-athlete there is usually a story that sets them apart from someone else. In the case of Jermaine Parker, when opportunity knocked, he answered — landing him a collegiate athletic scholarship.
Last week, Parker signed a track and field scholarship at Columbia International University. There, he will compete in long jump for the Rams, who participate in NAIA Division I in the Appalachian Athletic Conference.
So, what makes Parker’s story remarkable? A four-year member of the Cougar Basketball program at point guard, Parker had hoped to continue his career at the next level. When the basketball season ended, he decided to participate in track and field for the first time ever.
In fact, he knew so little about the sport, he was not even sure what events he would be good at or should compete in. So, he decided to rely on the advice of Coach Courtney Singleton. Following the coach’s suggestion, he chose long jump as one of his events.
Parker was able to compete in just two meets before COVID-19 ended the season. Those two meets would be all it took to garner a college athletic scholarship offer from Columbia International.
For most high school athletes, years are spent practicing, participating, perfecting and pursuing their chosen sport. For Parker, he literally did long jump twice. Yes, twice.
“The opportunity to compete in track and field for Columbia International came about from my result in our second track meet where I performed really well at a big event,” said Parker. “I knew this was the right decision when I went for a visit and I just felt so welcome, and the energy on the campus was just so relaxing. I feel like I can contribute at this college, not only through athletics but also through academics — this is like a big family and it shows nothing but support.
“I would like to thank Coach Mullins and Coach Singleton for believing in me and helping me get to this point,” said Parker. “I would like to thank my mom for letting me even run track, all of my family for supporting me and my decision, Coach Singleton for giving a chance to make this happen, and last, Jeremiah Daniels for being there at the meets and practices and helping me when I didn’t really know what to do.”
Parker is the son of Angel Parker of Walterboro. He maintains a GPA of 4.03 and is ranked 70th in his class. He plans to pursue an undergraduate degree in business management.