By Tyriq Thompson SMSB Alum / Intern – Staff Writer
For Kevin Parker, enrolling at Detroit Pershing High School in 2018 was a “wake up call.” Pershing is known for being a basketball powerhouse in the state of Michigan, and has produced notable alumni on the court like Steve Smith, Keith Appling, and Kay Felder. The football program is slightly lesser known, and Parker puts it on himself to change the narrative and lead his team to become great.
“I think we’re more focused than ever before,” Parker said. “For me, it’s a matter of losing the ‘hood’ mentality that you see people living by, and saying ‘I’m an athlete, this is what I want to do.’ Then you have to carry yourself a different way.”
Since becoming a part of Sound Mind Sound Body E.L.I.T.E., the high school junior has noticed a change in the way he carries himself. He credits his change in character to shifting the way that he thinks of himself.
As a freshman, Parker was familiar with SMSB through social media, but admitted that he never thought he’d be able to participate because of the caliber of athletes that participated in the camps prior. Two years later, before officially being selected to join the E.L.I.T.E. program, Parker had enough confidence in himself to tell the coaches at SMSB that he could work 12 times harder than anyone else.
“I used to mess up a lot, and I had to learn that the first change you have to make is in your mindset. You have to think highly of yourself and never let anyone belittle you. I have a lot more confidence now, and that comes from telling myself ‘You can do this, you can do that.’”
“I see myself as a leader,” Parker said. “I base that on my ability to work with people and stay focused.” Learning how to build and maintain working relationships with others has been Parker’s main focus in the SMSB E.L.I.T.E. program.
“For me, it’s more about the relationships than it is the training. All of the coaches here care about you, and they try their hardest to see you win and make it in life. They call and text us regularly to make sure we’re doing well. If we need rides, they make sure they try their best to ensure we’re taken care of. Having relationships like that are key, because you never know when you might need to call on someone.”
Outside of leading and building relationships, Parker says that his confidence has grown in another area as a result of the SMSB E.L.I.T.E. partnership with Beyond Basics — the virtual literacy tutoring program that he and his peers take part in five days a week has changed his outlook on reading, said Parker.
“I was never excited about reading. Since being in the program, my vocabulary has improved and I’m comfortable with reading in front of other people now. Before, I wasn’t confident enough in my reading skills to be able to do that.”
Parker said SMSB has helped him to mature and be more mindful of the impact that he has on others. “I know how to carry myself and act like the young man that I am. I just want to say ‘thank you’ to Coach Blackwell and the coaches at Sound Mind Sound Body. I don’t think they realize the impact they are having on us.”