Daily Egyptian

Saluki in volunteering for the long run

Daily Egyptian file photo

Daily Egyptian file photo

By Brent Meske, @brentmeskeDE

Collegiate athletics lasts up to five years, but volunteering and succeeding academically live on long after running spikes are hung up for the final time.

Senior distance runner Tori Parry has volunteered her time at places like Marion Veterans Medical Center, Memorial Hospital of Carbondale and the Victory Dream Center in her four years at SIU.

Parry said being the daughter of a pastor, an important part of her life is helping others have a better quality of life.

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“I’ve never had to question whether or not I would have food on my plate,” she said. “So seeing people in need tugs on my heart.”

Parry said she spends one or two hours a week volunteering and has had to learn to say, “no” to some opportunities to avoid added stress. She made the decision to cut back on volunteering this year because her academic load increased.

She maintained a 4.0 grade point average last semester and was named co-physical education major of the year on April 11.

“[Distance] coach [David] Beauchem will emphasize doing one major event a semester or season,” Parry said. “If we had more time, we would love to do more.”

Because of her major, Parry tries to incorporate sports into her volunteering. She said it will likely be the case when she travels with teammate senior Sadie Darnell, and her dad to El Salvador this summer for a mission trip.

“I’m sure we will play some soccer and get our butts kicked a little bit because they are really good at soccer,” she said. “Mainly we are going to be working with kids, doing prayer walking and in churches sharing our testimonies.”

The trip is facilitated by Fruitland Community Church in Jackson, Mo., where Parry’s father is a pastor.

Darnell said she volunteered in the past and is looking forward to the summer mission trip because she has never left the country.

“I have been volunteering in food pantries and working with kids,” she said. “I have done stuff through my church at home and I also volunteered time for [National Honor Society] in high school.”

Darnell and Parry also volunteer at the Vine Church nursery.

Parry said it is important for student athletes to give back to the community because those are the people who help pay for their scholarships.

“Everything we do in training is to make SIU track and cross-country be successful,” she said. “With everything athletics gives us and the community helps us with, there’s a value to wanting to give back to people in the community as well.”

Parry is a representative for the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and helps plan volunteer opportunities with her teammates.

Coach Connie Price-Smith said Parry gets teammates participating in volunteerism. 

“It is important for them to do community service and be good role models,” she said. “It’s important to the program and the department… [Parry] does a good job at [leading] it.”

Parry said she tries to encourage teammates to volunteer without forcing them.

“You want people to volunteer because they want to be there,” Parry said. “If they are doing it because they have to or they feel obligated to, it is really the wrong heart.”

Parry and 10 teammates traveled to Long Mont, Colo., during spring break to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity and help build homes. 

Price-Smith said she notices a lot of athletes doing it because they want to, not because they have to.

“They like helping people,” she said. “A lot of them like to take the initiative and do it on their own.” 

In her final season as a Saluki, Parry — who hopes to score in the 10,000-meter race at the Missouri Valley Conference meet — said the hardest part will be saying goodbye to teammates she has developed relationships with for the past four years.

Parry said she will not competitively run after graduation, but plans to become a physical education teacher and help children combat childhood obesity. 

Brent Meske can be reached at [email protected] or at 536-3311 ext. 269.  

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