September 27, 2007

Sprints Gives Parke Life Lessons

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Football runs in his blood. Determination drives his performance. And, most importantly, he just loves to hit people.
“Being able to come out on the football field and hit kids is what motivates me,” said junior linebacker John Parke. “I would take a big hit over a tackle any day.”
Coming off of an undefeated season in 2006, the first one since 1982, the sprint football team clinched its sixth CSFL title. Having only two other perfect seasons in 1978 and 1982, the Red defense drove the team last year, finishing as the best overall ranked defense.
Throughout the season, the defense allowed opponents only 210 yards of offense per game. Parke was elected CSFL Player of the Week the first week last year, tallying nine tackles in a 20-12 win over Penn.
His experience has not only made him a key player on the team, but has also helped to define him.
“I started playing football as soon as I was allowed to, which was age five,” Parke said. “I have loved it from day one, and freshman year of college I didn’t feel the same without it. I went to Rutgers freshman year, and didn’t play football for the first time since I started playing.”
Following such an impressive 2006 season, Parke has high expectations for the upcoming season. Already out of the gate at 2-0 with victories over Penn and Princeton, the Red has shown the same fire that brought it to the CSFL championship last year. In the 2007 season opener against the Quakers, Parke had 13 tackles in the 23-18 win. Parke’s values and efforts towards teamwork have kept him a consistent playmaker.
“[A good teammate is] a playmaker,” Parke said. “Someone you can depend on to make a big play in a key situation.”
So far this season, Parke leads the defense with 16 of the team’s 110 tackles.
Recently, in its 49-26 win over Princeton, the Red defense grabbed four interceptions and allowed only 24 yards rushing. Parke relates this team effort not only to success on the field, but to success in life after college football.
“I feel football, probably like most sports, allows you to gain experience working as a team player,” Parke said. “Everyone must do their job for the team to be successful. For example, if you’re playing receiver and your job is to get open and catch a pass, if one lineman doesn’t do his job and misses a block, the quarterback gets sacked, and the ball won’t even get thrown your way.”
Sprints returns to the field on Oct. 7 to take on Navy in the Pride Bowl. Going in undefeated, the Red has high hopes for the future of the team and the players. Parke looks forward to motivating new players and teaching them how to be successful on the gridiron.
“React to what you see in front of you,” Parke said when asked about advice for new players. “If you have to think about what you should do, you’re already a few steps behind.”