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Parson - Work hard to succeed

January 17, 1999|By MARLO BARNHART

The appearance of Cathy Parson at the Martin Luther King Jr. scholarship dinner Saturday was more than the classic "hometown girl makes good" success story.

The interim head coach of the Washington Mystics team of the Women's National Basketball Association shared some of her memories growing up in Hagerstown, going to North Hagerstown High School and coming back home to visit friends and family.

"I dreamed of being a basketball player," Parson said to the more than 50 people assembled for the annual fundraising dinner. "But I learned I had to go to college to do that and then, I learned that those choices made me the person I am today."

She urged the young people in the audience to do the same and develop the discipline it takes to succeed.

"Get out of bed, study consistently, eat your vegetables ... all those things represent discipline to achieve goals," she said.

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Parson said she feels a great responsibility to represent Hagerstown well. And for that reason, she regularly comes home to work with young people and help them live their dreams.

Parson's dream came true last March when she was named assistant coach of the Mystics. Almost immediately, she found herself at the helm of the new team when the head coach lost the job.

Previously, Parson has been head women's basketball coach and assistant athletic director at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Va.

Parson graduated from North in 1979 and played for West Virginia University. When she graduated in 1984, she was the Lady Mountaineers' all-time scoring leader, a record she still holds.

She played for Norfolk in the Women's American Basketball Association. When her playing days ended, she began coaching. She became an assistant at Providence College before accepting the Christopher Newport position in 1988.

"Last year was our first season and it was tough," Parson said, noting that the team record was 3-27. "But we learned a lot."

Each year, proceeds from the Martin Luther King dinner and other fundraisers and donations go to provide scholarships for minority graduating seniors who are going on to college.

Dinner organizer Ruth Monroe thanked those who have donated to the fund. Money is distributed in June to students who only have to have a 2.5 grade point average and a letter of intent to a college to qualify for aid.

Monroe particularly thanked Hagerstown Mayor Robert Bruchey for his donation and for attending the dinner.

"We're glad the mayor gets to see that not all our young people are on the corners selling drugs," Monroe said.

She invited all the young people to return to the Martin Luther King Center on Monday at 11 a.m. for a speak-out program with Hagerstown Police Chief Dale Jones and other community leaders.

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