Heather Parker chose to continue her softball career at Lipscomb after pitching on the junior college level at Wallace State in Alabama. She had never heard of Lipscomb when then pitching coach Lexi Myers started recruiting her. But she fell in love with the campus and in May will receive her second degree from Lipscomb. She has a busy schedule of work and nursing classes, but managed to spend some time talking this week with Lipscombsports.com.
What years did you play at Lipscomb? Who were your coaches?
"I played softball at Lipscomb from 2012-14. Kristin Ryman was the head coach. My last year Megan Rhodes Smith was the pitching coach and J.J. Dillingham was an assistant coach."
Why did you choose to attend Lipscomb?
"Lexi Myers came down to one of our practices at Wallace State. She invited me to come up to Nashville and tour the campus. I had never heard of Lipscomb before.
"I didn't know exactly where I wanted to go to school after junior college. I came to Lipscomb and met the coaches and the girls. I went on a tour of the campus and I just loved it. I had talked to a couple of other colleges, but as soon as I came to Lipscomb I knew it was exactly where I wanted to be.
"I knew it was a smaller campus. I was raised in church, but I didn't know what going to a Christian school would be like. I loved the smaller feel of the school. At times people would ask me if I would have preferred to go to a bigger school with a football team. That is great, but I can go watch football games any time I want."
What is your fondest athletic memory at Lipscomb?
"Hosting the ASUN Conference Tournament my junior and senior years was a big memory. It was a great experience having all of the teams come in. Highly-competitive softball is the kind of environment I like. When we played conference series it was always fun, but I enjoyed having all of the teams here.
"I also enjoyed all of the traveling. I have seen so much of the country I would have never traveled to without playing softball.
"Another memory was being able to play in the NCAA Tournament my senior year. That was a blessing. We went to a restaurant in Green Hills and didn't know what to expect when we were watching the selection show. We kind of thought we would get to go, but we weren't sure until we saw our name pop up."
Who had the biggest influence on you during your athletic career at Lipscomb? How?
"Coach Smith my senior year because being a pitcher you spend more time with the pitching coach. Coach Ryman and J.J. were obviously amazing, but there is a special bond between a pitcher and the pitching coach.
"She did a great job of getting us on track and tweaking some of the mechanics of pitching.
"I am a pitching instructor now at Nashville Elite Softball Academy. I still use a lot of the psychology things we did with Coach Smith, especially visualization. I tell them to go home and visualize a pitch they are having trouble with. I have tried to teach them they have to overcome their negative thoughts because that can sometimes be more of a problem than poor mechanics."
What is your fondest non-athletic memory from your time at Lipscomb?
"Our mission trip to Honduras. I came in and none of the girls really knew me. I went out of the country with them shortly after I met them. Some people thought I was crazy for doing that, but it was a bonding experience for me.
"The trip had its ups and downs. There is one story everyone remembers. My horse was attacked by a wild horse and took off sprinting past the whole pack. I was screaming for the instructor because I had never ridden a horse before.
"We were taking a trail ride up a mountain to a coffee plantation. It was supposed to be a four-hour trip. It took us two hours to get up the mountain, but when we were coming back down it started raining. It took us four hours to get back down. The water was rushing and it really was a street. It looked like a creek.
"It is a funny story to remember now."
What is the most valuable thing you gained or learned from your time at Lipscomb?
"The team atmosphere and being selfless. Being a good teammate is often more important than winning sometimes. If you are a good teammate then you are winning. That team atmosphere will really help me because nursing is about teamwork and being selfless
"Leadership is another lesson. As a pitcher people rely on you to get the job done. So you either step up and get it done or the team loses."
Who was your favorite professor? Why?
"I would definitely say Mrs. Kara Price. She has been my instructor three times in nursing school. I have a special bond with her.
"She has helped me through some really tough weeks in nursing school. She has been very encouraging. She always reminds me I am here for a reason…that God has put me in this school and he has a plan for me. I have to trust in what He is doing in my life."
Where do you live now?
"Spring Hill, Tennessee."
What are your future plans?
"I will be graduating from Lipscomb with my B.S. in nursing in May. I have an undergraduate degree in psychology from Lipscomb that I completed in 2014.
"I did six weeks recently at St. Thomas West in the Medical Intensive Care Unit (MIC). I am now doing my community health clinicals where you go to different places in the community like Project Cure, the Red Cross and Home Health to get a look at nursing outside of a hospital.
"Ultimately, I want to work in Neonatal Intensive Care (NIC). It is really hard to get a job in that area as a new nurse because they want you to have so much experience.
"I have wanted to be a NIC nurse since I was seven years old. My brother, Heath, was born premature and he was in the neonatal unit for 10 days. He is 17 now. I told my parents then that is what I want to do one day and that is still the plan."
Tell us about your family.
"I am single. Nursing school is enough of a relationship for me right now."