As Kyle Parker prepared for his final game in Death Valley, he and his parents spent several hours with TheClemsonInsider.com to share their thoughts on their experience at Clemson. Over the next nine days TCI will bring you over 80 minutes of video interviews with this special family. Kyle, his father Carl and his mother take us behind the scenes as they look back at their time at Clemson.
In the second of a nine part series Kyle and Cathy talk about something the fans may not know enough about and that is a lot of the things the Parkers do off the field to help others.
Previous articles in the Series:
First tell us about Athletes to Champions and the things you do?
Cathy: Well we started Athletes to Champions back in 2007 and I know a lot of people have heard about the football field that we put in Alaska. That started it off. We have tried to teach our children that God has blessed them with a lot of athletic ability but that is not just for them but for them to share whatever their gifts may be with others. It just so happens that athletics have been the talents that they have been so blessed with so I have been really proud of all four of our kids that they have used ability and given back. Kyle has been a big part of Athletes to Champions. I was thinking about when we first started and we did a press conference to talk about how we were going to put a field in Alaska Kyle and Xavier Brewer and a couple of other players off our team got up and spoke about how they wanted to bless kids that were not as fortunate as them with an opportunity. Of course they taught a team with a group of boys that had never been exposed to football how to play football. Since then we have done a lot of camps in North Carolina and Kyle has been a part of those and our other kids have as well. I am just so thankful that they get it. They know how important it is to give back and to bless others with the talent that they have been so blessed with.
Kyle you have done a lot of work with the PowerCross folks in Statesville. The first year you did a baseball camp, then the football camp. You have had them come to the Clemson campus. You have had them meet you in Wake Forest. You gave the hats away to the kids and the both games they wore the hats you hit a home run. Talk a little bit about your relationship with those kids in Statesville.
Kyle: Well like you said we have done a lot and it is always nice just to have an opportunity to give back. Whenever you are around the kids in Statesville you feel happy. You don’t feel like it is your job to be there you just kind of hang out and they enjoy it. It is not really too much to ask. Like you’ve said we have had them here and I have had them hitting baseballs on the baseball field or playing football in Death Valley. I think we did that two years ago with a couple of them. They have been around and it is always nice, especially when you are in the position that I am in to be able to look back and give back to kids.
Cathy obviously you are proud of your son for what he does on the football field and the baseball field but I imagine you and Carl are more proud of what he does helping you with Athletes to Champions and some of those kids.
Cathy: Oh yes absolutely. That is character when you are able to make time to help some kids that don’t know how to play ball or just need a camp to go to and Kyle has been really good about all of the things that I volunteer him for. I know it is tough when you are a college student and you are playing two sports and you have a mom calling saying hey buddy can you come this weekend. He has always been real gracious to work it in and then to invite other athletes from other schools like Wake Forest and other schools where he has good friends that play ball to come and to help. Your right there is nothing that can make me more proud than that. To see him give back to these kids and to help them. In turn they love him and they love Clemson because they love Kyle. I am very proud of that.
Kyle one thing a lot of fans out there may not know. Everyone talks about all the money you are going to make playing with the Rockies. What fans don’t know is you are going to give some of that money back to Athletes to Champions and help them do more things for the kids that you guys have been working with.
Kyle: Yeah without a doubt I think any time you are blessed with something like that you always have to give back. It is just something that I was raised to do. I think I will be even more blessed if I continue to give and continue to help. You know obviously they need it and I have been blessed so why not provide something for these kids and this foundation that has done a lot of work and will continue to do a lot of work in kid’s lives that really don’t have anything else going for them. It is a great opportunity to help and give back something that I have been blessed with.
You have grown a lot the last few years on the baseball field and the football field. Do you feel like in some ways maybe you have grown more off the field doing all of these other things? As you move to a professional sport that is something a lot of the professional sports try to do is give back as well.
Kyle: Without a doubt. I have learned a lot. I have been in a lot of different situations. I have been on my own. I have been here and I have learned a lot. I am just grateful for some of the lessons I have learned and that I have a great family behind me and can always steer me in the right direction.
Talk to us about some of the future plans you have for Athletes to Champions.
Cathy: Well we are going to keep doing what we have been doing and that is outfitting kids with uniforms and registration fees and doing camps for them and those types’ things. We are always trying to raise money and I would love it if we would get to the point where I have a coach call me and says I have five kids that just can’t play unless they have this come through and be able to do it right off the bat. I have been able to do that so far with the network of friends and contacts that we have made. I will never forget this past summer getting a call from a coach of a seven and eight year old team. He said I hate to call and ask you because the year before we had outfitted three teams for him. He said I hate to call and ask you but I have all of the uniform except for the helmets. He said we have been practicing the whole month of August without helmets. The kids couldn’t tackle or anything. He said I have been telling them that God was going to provide. I said well when is your game and he said Saturday. This was on a Monday. So I sent an email out real quick. I sent it to everyone that was on my contact list and started getting some donations in and one was from one of Kyle’s teammates on the baseball team. A $20 donation from a broke college student. I just cried because I said they get it, they really get it. We were able to buy helmets for those kids. Of course they played and the killed the other team. They beat them like 40 to nothing because they were able to hit and they were so excited about it. What a blessing to know that there were 48 kids that had the opportunity that would not have if we had not gotten involved. So we are going to keep doing those types things and doing camps. We would love to do a facility for our group in North Carolina and hopefully some things are going to be working out with that. We have some really large goals but we will just chip at it a little bit at a time. I am just thankful that we are able to do what we do right now.