Although she had made a verbal agreement to play for the SEC softball team out of South Carolina when she was just a White County Middle School student, Caydra Parker inked her name and officially became a South Carolina Gamecock on National Signing Day.
“It was one of those moments when you’re like this is real. It’s not a fairy tale,” Parker’s mother, Rhonda Parker, said about receiving the official letter in the mail the week before the signing.
Parker visited the University of South Carolina campus as a seventh grader and said she fell in love with the school and their softball program right away.
“It felt like home, and I knew that this is where I wanted to play college ball,” the now White County Warriorette senior outfielder said.
Caydra Parker said that making the verbal commitment as an eighth grader was an easy decision but getting her National Letter of Intent in the mail took her to more somber thoughts.
“I did my duty. I did what I told them I would do, and I finished what I started. I’m ready to officially be a Gamecock,” she said.
Jerry Roberts, who has coached Caydra Parker for the past three seasons as the head coach for the White County High School softball program, said signing her letter of intent was an accumulation of all of the work that she has put into improving her skills on the field.
“Her work ethic and talent and her desire to play has shown through, and today is the result of all of that,” Roberts said of his centerfielder. “She has been really good to coach the last three years, and now she is going on to the next level.”
Her mother agreed that playing for a school in the SEC did not happen by accident but because of the hours her daughter has put into improving herself.
“The sacrifices that she gave up, as far as not being a normal kid – not being able to go to normal functions like birthday parties and family functions and friend gatherings, that was the sacrifice and extra effort she gave for so many years,” Rhonda Parker said. “And now all of that hard work and all of those sacrifices have paid off big time.”
But before she takes off and capitalizes on the reward for all those sacrifices, Caydra Parker still has one more season as a Warriorette to finish.
“I just want to see us work hard as a team and to see how far we can go,” Caydra Parker said about her team that set a few school records last year while winning the district championship and advancing to sub-state play. “As for me, I just want to play my heart out one more time in the maroon and gray.”
Caydra Parker has spent her springs on the White County softball field and her summers traveling the country as she played softball as a member of different traveling teams, and she said both experiences have been beneficial in developing her into the softball player she is now.
“You learn a lot going from travel ball to high school ball,” she said. “You learn a lot about yourself and about being a good teammate. You learn to play in different conditions and at different levels of competitiveness. You learn how to play through different types of stress and to be both a leader and an encourager.”
As she leaves her maroon and gray days behind at the end of the next semester, she hopes the teammates who will return as Warriorettes will remember to not take their time on the field for granted and that they will continue to strive to improve every game and play with pride.
She also said she knows the summers she spent with her travel ball teammates will always be cherished, but she’s not going to hold back when they are in opposite dugouts over the next four years.
“We will always have a special bond, but I guess I’ll see them on the other side of the field when we play against each other now,” she laughed. “I’m ready to be a Gamecock.”
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