Parkland athletes exemplify the Parkland experience

Adam Vilmin

Staff Writer

Just like the rest of Parkland’s student body, Parkland’s student athletes are building a resume in hopes of transferring to a four year university.  Many student athletes enroll at Parkland for the same reasons that other students do. Whether that reason is the low cost tuition, they’re trying to get into the school of their dreams that has initially rejected them, or they feel like they need some time to adjust to the college level. There is only one big difference motivating their transfer decision, which is what is going to give them the best opportunity to keep playing ball at the highest level.

Sophomore student and basketball player, Will Gary, has real life experience dealing with the differences between Parkland and a four year college.  After coming to the Cobras from Eastern Kentucky University, he found Parkland gave him the perfect opportunity to build up skills for his major in business management, as well as improve his skills on the court by playing with the co-Midwest Athletic Conference champion Parkland squad.

“Parkland is the best out of all the community colleges out there,” Gary said.  “The professors are highly educated. The classes actually prepare you for [four year] university.  They’re here to actually challenge you.”

Women’s basketball point guard Laura Litchfield also expressed the same sentiment.  After a successful season that ended with the team second in the nation, Litchfield explained how Parkland helped her prepare for next year’s transfer to University of Illinois, Chicago.

“Coming here with the coaching staff, and just going over tape, the dedication in practice really helped me as a point guard,” Litchfield said.  “There’s more confidence, just being able to learn more plays and get faster.”

In addition to the educational experience here at Parkland, student athletes are also the beneficiaries of a dedicated Athletic department. The coaching staffs take special care to not only create successful programs here in Champaign but also create student athletes that successfully transfer in the future.  They also make an effort to work as “agents” for their students by reaching out to coaches at bigger schools to give their players as much exposure as they can.

“Anyone looking to transfer on, we are trying to get as much tape out to the four year coaches as we can,” women’s basketball coach Mike Lindemann explained. “When the season’s over, our work is talking to other coaches, getting their names out, doing what we can to get them exposed.”

The Parkland College coaching staff doesn’t stop at preparing the athletes for on the field success.  They also try to create well rounded students and young adults, ready to be successful in life after sports.

“We have study halls set up for the guys to come and get all their work done together,” baseball’s assistant coach Zach Berryman said.  “We hammer in them early to make sure you’re talking to your teachers and know where you’re at in all your classes.  We also make a point to make sure these guys know what it is to be great men in everything they do.”

Students and athletes both choose to come to Parkland based on their reputation as a top community college in the state.  Athletes are also attracted to the added benefit of playing on the highly successful Parkland teams.  The exposure from playing deep into the playoffs gives the added benefit of receiving a scholarship at a four year university.  Baseball player, Tyler Burcham, came for the winning tradition as well as the academics.

“My education is important,” Burcham, who has committed to Lee University in Tennessee, said.  “I want to move into coaching and being around the staff has been awesome.”

Watch all the Spring Athletics’ rising stars in golf, baseball, and softball.  All have upcoming Regional/National tournaments.  More information can be found on Parkland Athletics’ website, www.parkland.edu/athletics.