Here are some words of advice to eighth-graders at Farragut Middle School who play a school sport and take it seriously, or to any athletic eighth-graders, who also want to succeed in the classroom as they move up to high school next fall.
“Definitely don’t procrastinate,” said Anne Abernathy, a senior All-state volleyball outside hitter at Farragut High School who also is an Honors student with a 4.0 grade point average. “A lot of other students can get away with procrastinating and holding off and waiting to do assignments.
“But if you’re playing a sport or if you are really dedicated at doing anything, you have to stay on top of things. You can’t wait until the last minute because you may have a practice or you may have a game,” added Abernathy, a Wingate University signee who joins fellow FHS volleyball senior stars Madi Howell and Alexis Parker as big-time winners on the court [three state runner-up team finishes] and in the classroom [TSSAA Academics of Excellence awardees all four years].”
However, for all of Parker’s success — three-time All-state outside hitter with a 4.10 GPA and an Honors student — she made reference to “senioritis,” where “there’s not as much study” your senior year in high school.
The procrastination bug actually bit Parker, an Indiana University signee, last fall.
“I had this class … where you have to write a big, long paper and do a website — and that’s all you have to do for the whole semester. I decided to procrastinate and procrastinate. I’d have practice or I was tired and I wanted to go to sleep,” Parker said. “I wanted to hang out with my friends some, and I put it off and off.
“I ended up having to stay up an entire night, I didn’t sleep for 32 hours, so I could finish it,” she added. “I had a whole month to do it.
“I’m kind of bad with procrastination, but I’m working on it.”
Looking back on her childhood to pinpoint reasons for her academic success, Parker said, “I always loved to read, I think that’s where it all started.”
Looking ahead to college, “Right now I’m going to be in the school of International Global Studies,” Parker said. “I think I’m going to be focusing on human rights and international law.
“I want to learn a foreign language, I want to go to another country and work in relations there,” she added. “Get the feel for other cultures, I’ve always been super passionate for that. Going and seeing how everybody else lives. Going to Third World countries, seeing how different it is from us and how fortunate we are.”
In terms of college experience, Howell has a leg up: an All-state libero with a 4.11 GPA as an Honors student at FHS, Howell graduated in December and enrolled as a student/athlete at Clemson University in January.
On the court, in fact, “We had one spring game against South Carolina. We tied them 2-2,” Howell said.
In the college classroom, “It was definitely hard at first trying to balance volleyball and all my classes. School at first was a little overwhelming, but with all my resources and tutors … that makes it a lot easier,” Howell said. “At Farragut all my teachers and all my guidance counselors were very straightforward and would help me through different things. It’s helped me in college to be prepared.
“You have to stay organized.”
In terms of priorities, “I’ve always been taught academics first, volleyball second,” Howell said about parents, Sherry and Jamie Howell.
“It’s definitely a very demanding task,” Abernathy said about balancing athletics and academics. “It requires a lot of discipline and commitment on both ends, where you have to stay up all night sometimes and study after practice.
“It’s kind of a struggle sometimes, but it’s definitely worth it in the end,” she added. “… If you focus on it you can definitely do it.”
At Wingate, Abernathy said she would major in either “nursing or accounting. But I think I’m leaning more toward the nursing route and get my undergrad[uate degree] in nursing. … I can minor in [accounting].”
Howell said about her major, “Right now it’s pre-business, but once I complete that it’ll be marketing.”