On Friday, as she committed to Dartmouth College—finalizing an agreement that she had first made as a sophomore—Gia Parker ’14 was surrounded by not one, but two teams.
Her varsity soccer teammates had come to cheer on their captain’s decision to play soccer at the Ivy League school; the varsity basketball team was there to support one of the players and leaders who had helped make their tournament run possible.
Watching the huge group throwing their arms around her daughter, Ms. Parker’s mother Jennifer Parker noted that the Williston community has become an “extended family” and has helped her develop self confidence and poise.
“Williston has been a wonderful place for her,” agreed her mother, Sonia Schloemann. “It’s helped her come into her own.”
For her coaches, as well as her teammates, the feeling is mutual.
“Gia is widely regarded by her teammates and coaches as an exceptional leader,” noted Athletic Director Mark Conroy. He added that her choice of Dartmouth “speaks volumes about not only her athletic and academic prowess, but her work ethic and commitment.”
Erin Davey, the head girls varsity soccer coach, said that Ms. Parker has consistently shown “what perseverance, resilience, and heart can accomplish.”
“It’s impossible to talk about Gia Parker without speaking to her undeniable work ethic and remarkable character,” Ms. Davey wrote in an email. “I am so proud of Gia… and I am so excited to follow her throughout the next chapter of her life.”
For her part, Ms. Parker said she chose the Hanover, New Hampshire school as much for its educational opportunities as for the chance to be on a strong, up-and-coming soccer team. Besides being a stand-out athlete, Ms. Parker was inducted into Williston’s Cum Laude Society this fall and has served as an Areté peer tutor, a dorm proctor, and as a member of the school’s Discipline Committee.
“I really wanted a mix of academics and athletics,” Ms. Parker said. “Dartmouth is an Ivy League school and seemed to make the most sense.”
Asked what moment she will cherish most from her time at Williston, Ms. Parker described a game this recent fall. It was her birthday, and the Wildcats were playing long-time rivals, Wilbraham & Monson Academy. With 12 minutes left, and the score tied 0-0, Ms. Parker sank a free kick in the corner.
“All my friends were there to celebrate,” she said. “I went running to my team. Everyone was so excited.”
In the midst of the celebration, she said, she almost missed it: the whole home crowd had started singing to her, “Happy Birthday.”