TENNERTON — One of Buckhannon-Upshur’s very own, Gabby Parke, was part of an exclusive group of young ladies selected for a very prestigious athletic honor, as she was chosen by Coach Kelly Tolar, the assistant women’s Basketball Coach at Clarendon College to compete on America’s Team girl’s basketball team in the summer of 2023.
The “America’s Team” program affords young athletes a chance to see the world through sports, while introducing and exposing the players to the culture and people of foreign countries. At the core of the America’s Team program ethos, is the belief that sports can change lives. Representatives of the America’s Team program embody the pursuit of a greater understanding of themselves, other people, and the world at-large through the lens of sports. In order to best accomplish the program’s mission of experiencing and gaining a better understanding of foreign lands through sports, America’s Team partnered with ACIS (American Council for International Studies). For the better part of the last 30 years, ACIS has striven to impact lives across the world through high quality educational tours. This makes for a harmonious marriage between America’s Team and the ACIS, as they both work towards very similar goals through their outreach work.
America’s Team representatives are selected through a strict recommendation process. Prospective athletes must be given a recommendation from either a coaching professional or a former athlete in order to be eligible for the program. Recommendations are given out after analyzing the athlete’s blend of integrity, character and overall athletic ability.
Parke receives this exclusive honor after putting together an outstanding first two years to get Buckhannon-Upshur High School basketball career. As a freshman, Parke wasted no time making her mark on the Lady Buccaneers basketball program, finishing the season second on the team in scoring after averaging 12 points per game. Parke was a floor-spacing, catch and shoot specialist, as the young frosh guard led the team in tents made three-point field goals, on her way to earning Second-Team All-Big 10 honors. Under the continued guidance of 2021-22 Conference Coach of the Year Rob Kittle, Parke expanded her scoring arsenal, growing by leaps and bounds in terms of ball-handling. Parke’s hard work and dedication to the game, saw both her role and responsibilities grow in her sophomore campaign, helping her team to compile stellar 19-6 mark last season and earning a spot on the Second-Team All-Big 10 team for the second consecutive season.
Parke took a moment to explain what being chosen for the America’s Team program meant to her, saying, “I couldn’t have been more excited after getting the news that I was chosen by Coach Kelly Tolar, the assistant women’s basketball coach at Clarendon College, to compete on America’s Team in the summer of 2023. I think that this is an amazing opportunity for me, as the America’s Team program shows athletes the world through sports and introduces players to foreign countries. The girl’s basketball team I was picked for will be playing down in the Dominican Republic next summer. Our team will arrive in the Dominican Republic on July 31, 2023, and our trip will last a week until July 7. Once there, I will be competing against some top talent across the world, alongside a team I will not get to meet until I arrive on the island. This will be an all-new experience and I am looking forward to the chance to make friends and memories that will last a lifetime.”
In order to help make Parke’s dream trip a reality, her family is seeking donations to help cover the $3,955 cost of the trip. Parke expanded on her fundraising effort, explaining “The total cost of the trip will come out to be $3,955. I’m trying to get as much of that donated as possible since my mom will have to pay the same amount to be able to come with me. I couldn’t imagine undertaking this journey without her by my side. Playing with America’s Team, I will get the chance to put my name on the radar of college coaches and scouts while proudly representing and bringing attention to our small town and state.”
If interested in supporting Parke, visit the GoFundMe page created by Parke at https://gofund.me/93898af2.