01-12 reese parris signing

Reese Parris, center, surrounded by family members, recently signed her letter of intent to play volleyball collegiately for Oklahoma Wesleyan University. Parris established herself as one of the top players in the Red River Valley while playing for the Prairiland Lady Patriots.

The Red River Valley is an area practically brimming with talented volleyball players, and over the last few years, few have shined as much as Prairiland Lady Patriot Reese Parris. Now, the dominating Lady Patriot middle will continue her athletic career at Oklahoma Wesleyan University.

Parris began playing volleyball in seventh grade, and first got into the sport on a whim, since not as many sports are offered at that level, she said. It didn’t take long for her to become enamored with the game.

“Volleyball for me was that sport that, for me, I never got tired of playing it,” Parris said. “With it, I never get to a point where I want to stop playing or ever feel burned out like I do with the other sports.”

It didn’t take long for her to blossom into one of the top volleyball players in the area, and head coach Emily Vanderburg said she impacts the game in ways that can’t be quantified.

“She’s a tremendous player and a tremendous athlete,” Vanderburg said. “But I think the biggest thing about Reese is just that she brings a ton of energy, great leadership and just a positive spark to her team.

“We’re definitely going to miss that fire and energy and desire to win that she always brought.”

Over the course of her senior campaign, which saw Parris and her Lady Patriot team reach the area finals, Parris tallied 263 kills, 63 blocks, 71 digs and 35 aces over the course of the season — dominant numbers that earned her All-RRV co-MVP honors.

When it came time to decide where she wanted to go to further her academic and athletic careers, Parris said an instant connection with the coaching staff at Oklahoma Wesleyan and a love for the campus made the decision an easy one.

“The people there are great, and it really just immediately felt like home,” Parris said.

Parris’ father, Chris Parris, said he and the rest of Reese’s family couldn’t be prouder of her.

“We’re so glad she’s able to follow her dream like this,” Chris Parris said. “We didn’t push her to play college ball, but that was something she wanted and was a goal that she had, and I’m just really proud of how she worked to accomplish that.”

Chris Parris said he definitely plans on making the drive up to Oklahoma Wesleyan in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, to see his daughter play.

“Oh yeah, we’ll definitely be driving up there to see her play a few times,” he said with a laugh.

Looking back on her time with Prairiland, Reese Parris said she’s going to miss the bonds formed with her teammates and coaches.

“I’m going to miss the friendships I made through volleyball here, but I know I’ll carry those with me wherever I go,” Reese Parris said.

Looking to the future, though, she said she’s looking forward to the challenge of playing at the next level.

“It’s going to be a different atmosphere and level of play, and it’s definitely going to take a little bit of getting used to at first,” she said with a grin. “But I’m looking forward to that.”

Tommy Culkin is sports editor for The Paris News. He can be reached at 903-785-6972 or at tommy.culkin@theparisnews.com.

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