Now gearing up to graduate and return to Texas, senior Anna Parish never envisioned coming to John Brown University. The point guard and exercise studies major knew she desired to play college basketball but did not hear about the University until the summer before her senior year of high school.
“I’m not really sure how it all worked out,” Parish admitted. “Coach saw me playing and asked about me.”
Homeschooled, Parish began playing basketball at the age of 11. Throughout high school, she played on a Texas Home Educators’ Sports Association team.
Soon she found herself in Siloam Springs perched on the courtside watching a routine practice. Although she felt a little intimidated as the only visiting perspective, she described her hosts as nice, a trait which paid off in Parish’s eventual decision to attend the University.
“I was not really serious about any other schools,” she said. “But when I found here, I stopped looking. I prayed and talked about it with my family, and it just felt right.”
Looking back over the past four years, Parish explained the challenges and triumphs each one brought.
Her freshman year, Parish worked to overcome the transition between high school and collegiate level basketball. While she enjoyed the faster speed of the game, the physicality often left her doubting her abilities.
“In high school I was strong, but in college I was weak,” she said. “It was a rough year.”
It was also the year she tore her ACL and missed a practice a game for the first time.
Sophomore year, however, things began to look up for both the team and Parish. The team progressed to the national tournament and received awards – thanks to hard work and what Parish called good team chemistry and leadership.
She also earned her career high of 29 points that year and was chosen as the JBU woman athlete of the year.
Her third year passed in a similar manner, but the team was not as successful as the previous year.
Then senior year arrived. As the only senior on the team, Parish stepped into the role of team captain.
Preferring to lead by example, and never the loud one, Parish started the year feeling timid. Nonetheless, she pushed on, and as time passed, she grew more comfortable with the leadership role.
“I’m still never the loud one,” she joked. “But I played hard in practice and games. I wanted them to see that I was a hard worker and that I really loved the game.”
Although a stress fracture in her heel prevented Parish from practicing and playing as much as she would have liked, she was still able to enjoy traditions such as Senior Night—a highlight of the season for the point guard.
Family and friends attended, and the other girls decorated the locker room, filling it with little gifts. For Parish, the best present proved the win that night.
With all of these memories and many more, Parish plans to return home and work as a personal trainer while somehow including basketball in the mix.
“I like to stay busy,” she explained. “And basketball definitely does that for you. It gives you goals to work towards. Hard work always pays off in one way or another.”