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Howard basketball coach to return to Hagerstown for banquet

Cathy Parson to be first female keynote speaker at True Grit Awards

Cathy Parson to be first female keynote speaker at True Grit Awards

April 15, 2008|By JANET HEIM

Mention Hagerstown when you talk to Cathy Parson and you've got her attention. Add student-athletes who work hard despite facing obstacles and she's all ears.

Parson, head women's basketball coach at Howard University, was more than happy to be the first female keynote speaker at the True Grit Awards Ceremony at Fountain Head Country Club on May 13.

"The concept of True Grit - someone who works hard, gives of themselves 100 percent - I enjoy being a part of," Parson said in a phone interview.

The True Grit Award is presented to one senior student-athlete from each high school in Washington County and one sophomore student-athlete from Hagerstown Community College who has demonstrated the ability to overcome hardship to become a member of an athletic team.

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Parson is a 1979 graduate of North Hagerstown High School. She played basketball there, then went to West Virginia University, where she was the first female in the university's history to receive an athletic scholarship, she said.

She distinguished herself in women's college basketball and holds the school record for career points with 2,128. Only Jerry West and Rod Hundley scored more points in their WVU careers, according to the Howard University Web site.

Parson was a three-time Mountaineer MVP and the first female athlete at WVU to have her jersey retired.

After earning a B.S. in physical education at WVU, Parson was an assistant coach at Providence College for three years, then coached for almost 10 years at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Va.

She was an assistant coach, then later interim head coach of the WNBA's Washington Mystics, and associate head coach at the University of Richmond. She took the head coaching job at Howard University eight years ago.

Parson, 46, is the daughter of Yvonne Parson and the late Bishop Tom Parson. She lives in Upper Marlboro, Md.

A recent trip to the Women's Final Four, was a working trip for her, with a convention for coaches. Parson said it was exciting to see the games.

As for the students she'll be speaking to at the True Grit ceremony, Parson has some words of wisdom.

"The biggest thing to impart is the ability to never quit on a goal, because there definitely is a way. You may have to struggle to attain it," Parson said. "I look forward to being back."

Tickets to the True Grit Awards Ceremony are available at the Hagerstown YMCA for $23. The event begins with social time at 6 p.m. Dinner is at 6:30.

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