featureParris picks Oklahoma Wesleyan to play college volleyball
Parris picks Oklahoma Wesleyan

Parris picks Oklahoma Wesleyan to play college volleyball

During her volleyball career at Prairiland High School, senior middle blocker Reese Parris saved her best for last. Her final year on the varsity level was her best as Reese delivered 263 kills, 71 digs, 63 blocks, and 35 aces in 26 total matches. Prairiland (21-5, 11-2) finished as runners up in the district, reached the Area Round of postseason play, and remained in the Class 3A state rankings for the majority of the season.

A momentous decision

Now that her high school volleyball career is completed, Reese decided to extend her playing days to the next level. With that, Reese committed to play college volleyball at Oklahoma Wesleyan University, a private, four-year NAIA school in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. The Prairiland senior will join the Eagles’ volleyball program following her high school graduation in June 2021.

“I visited a couple of other different colleges and got a few offers, but Oklahoma Wesleyan’s volleyball program stuck out the most to me,” Reese said. “They’re a very competitive team and the players all form a good, unified group. They don’t worry about any drama — they’re there to play volleyball and to win. My mindset is that I’m there to play and get better, or I’m not there at all. All of these things were evident with their program, and it was something I knew that I wanted to be a part of.”

Great minds think alike

Both Reese and the Eagles volleyball program share similar mindsets in terms of gamesmanship and philosophy. Reese’s growth this season both on and off the court was key in making the college signing a reality.

“I’ve played a lot of club volleyball and have gotten to know people I didn’t know before. I’ve always been able to make those connections in volleyball,” Reese said. “I wasn’t as much of a leader until this year. I always had some moments here and there, but this year I really told myself to step it up. I knew the team needed me to be a leader and I knew to use my experience to my advantage. Any team can have more than one leader. If someone messed up on a play at Wesleyan, any of the other teammates were there to step in and help correct the issue. I am always looking to get better and they believe in that as well.”

Reese’s game: an upward-trending stock

Improving was one thing Reese did this season with certainty. The quantum leaps as she made with her game and her intangibles across the board did not go unnoticed by her head coach, who noticed that her star middle was very much in control of her athletic and dynamic game as a key player.

“Her overall control while playing I think has been one of the biggest things that has improved a lot over the years,” Lady Patriots head volleyball coach Emily Vanderburg said. “When I look back to her freshman and sophomore years to now, she is a lot more controlled in every aspect of the game. The control has led to her being a lot more successful with her timing in hitting and blocking among other aspects. Her drive to get better has helped fuel that. Never letting that desire and drive to get better and losing the spirit of competitiveness will most definitely help her with the next level. You really have to love the game and love to compete to flourish at the collegiate level.”

The level of play that was on display by Reese did not come in just one day. Instead, she logged countless hours in the gym geared towards her goals of improvement. She said her father, Chris Parris, has been a huge help to her development. Whether it meant out lifting the boys in the weight room, working on her vertical, or shuttling her to and from various sites to compete in club matches, Reese knows how much she benefited from her biggest supporter.

“The travel is expensive and everyone wants to coordinate. It’s a toll, but it is what we enjoy,” Chris Parris said. “It has always been easy to get Reese to play extra with volleyball. The love of the game helped push her to work. She’s a gym rat and likes to lift heavy weights. She would go up there into the gym with the young guys lifting, and she would outfit them. She does a lot of box jumps, too, and through competitiveness has found ways to keep improving. She pushed herself well once she learned how to, I just preached to her that she may not be able to do something now, but she can eventually. This past year was a lot more about the mental game, and you could see that improvement with her and the girls when they excelled.”

Haters are her motivators

Reese was not always a diehard volleyball player. In fact, Reese spent more time on the softball field through her sixth-grade year than anywhere else. However, she fell in love with the sport of volleyball when she reached seventh grade. From there, she worked hard to learn the game but not without backlash. Facing doubt and skepticism from a young age, Reese has channeled that negative energy into fuel to be great.

“There were people who doubted my ability to play, and proving people wrong has been an ultimate form of motivation,” Reese said. “People may still have their doubts and I’ve always been told ‘No,’ from early on. I’m not supposed to be a middle, I’m not supposed to be on varsity, and I’m not even supposed to be playing volleyball. I did all of those things, and people who doubted these things have really motivated me.”

Hard work paid off

She may not have collected a State ring or medal as a Lady Patriot volleyball player, but those who know Reese believe that she played with the heart of a champion. Along with her determination, her work ethic was unmatched, which is what has made her parents most proud in achieving her goal of playing college volleyball.

“The biggest thing for me and Randa is that she worked hard and succeeded at what she was trying to do,” Chris said. “I didn’t expect her to be a college athlete or even a volleyball player. She went to school early because she’s so smart. I’m not as proud as her playing in college volleyball, but to follow through on a goal she set for herself.”

Along with praise from her parents, Vanderburg enjoyed the commitment and leadership Reese showed during her years in the school’s volleyball program. The example on display from Reese will help lay down the foundation and expectations for years to come.

“I appreciate Reese’s years of dedication and commitment to the Prairiland Volleyball program,” Vanderburg said. “She has been a big part of all our success over the past 3-4 seasons and it’s been a pleasure to have been able to coach her during this time. In the past two seasons, she has especially stepped up and has been a big leader. Her journey from junior high to her senior year and the work that she put in to be where she is at is now, is an example that I use often with other junior high athletes and lower classmen.”

Reese reminisces down the road of a successful career

Looking back, Reese will never forget the abundance of support and positive experiences she collected over the years playing her favorite sport in Pattonville. Although she did not compete at a large school, she and her teams over the years showed they could play with anyone.

“It’s been amazing. Every parent has been so supportive with the goodie bags they make and the number of games they come to,” Reese said. “We may not have the biggest fan section, but we have the best fans. They support us wherever we go and getting to play against big schools as a player on a smaller school makes those wins even sweeter. It reflects on how we’ve continued to build the program up, and you want to be on a team that wants to win and have fun while doing it.”Reese plans to attend her new school in the summer of 2021 and plans to enroll as a pre-med major. For more sports coverage, click here.

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