Goodbye to our seniors

After school years full of football games, basketball practices and off-season lifting, Cottage Grove high school senior Kory Parent is taking this Spring to prepare for his future.

Though his post-high school options abound, among the most prestigious of Parent’s offers is one from the United States Naval Academy. The academy boasted just a nine percent acceptance rate in 2015, and this year, Parent made the cut. 

“I knew I wanted to get a bachelor’s and then try to become a Navy SEAL, but I didn’t think I was going to get accepted into the Naval Academy,” Parent said. “The competition was really high this year.”

But a 4.0 weighted GPA, stellar athletic record, including Sky-Em 2016 Boys Basketball Player of the Year and first team All-State selections in both basketball and football, among other accolades, landed Parent among the few who earn a spot at the academy each year. 

Parent has not yet accepted the offer and said he is keeping his options open, however, juggling the decision to stay in state or make the trip to Annapolis, Maryland where the academy is located.

As a lifelong athlete, the 5 foot 8 inch senior has also landed offers from a series of smaller schools around the state with offers to continue his athletic career. Schools including George Fox University and Willamette University have sought Parent out with offers to play football at their schools. 

Though the U.S. Naval Academy acceptance came as somewhat of a shock to Parent himself, those who have known him as an athlete or student during his time in Cottage Grove weren’t nearly as surprised. 

One such figure who has seen Parent progress as an athlete and leader is Assistant Superintendent for the South Lane School District and Cottage Grove High School Football assistant coach Kyle Tucker. Tucker coached Parent on the defensive side of the ball for the past three years and was witness to his work ethic on and off the field, citing Parent’s extra time in the weight room, watching film and his first-in-last-out practice schedule as markers for his offer from the academy. 

“Just the ability for a kid that age to put in the amount of time that he puts in is amazing,” Tucker said of Parent. “You don’t see that very often.” 

That “extra practice makes perfect” mentality is one that Parent brought not only to football, as Tucker described, but also to the basketball court. Parent said it is one that he developed at an early age, especially when it came to basketball. 

 “I just was never one of the kids that would be laying on the couch, watching TV all day,” Parent said. “I would be the one that would be thinking, ‘If I’m watching TV, then why couldn’t I just go out and shoot shots?’”

That work especially paid off his junior and senior years, after the early morning shooting sessions in addition to regular practices gave him an extra competitive edge. His work reflected in the Lion’s basketball record, bouncing from 5-20 overall Parent’s sophomore year to 20-5 his junior season.  

But Parent said it was more than just his own work that led the Lions to a stellar two year streak; a core of strong senior starters was also integral to his basketball and football team’s success. 

“They were key players, and I think our leadership was the best it’s been in football,” Parent said. 

During the 2016 and 2017 seasons, Lions’ football went 8-0 in league play, while basketball took a 9-2 league record. 

Now, with his high school athletics career behind him, Parent is sorting his options, preparing for the next step. But his legacy as a trendsetter and captain both on the court and on the field is one he leaves behind for the Lions’ next round of student-athletes. 

“The culture of those young kids... having good leaders like Kory, helps our younger guys become good leaders,” Tucker said. “Then you get those young leaders who step up and keep that tradition moving forward.”