At Centennial, Parks stars in her new role

Girls lacrosse: Junior Chelsea Parks has assumed, and adapted to, the responsibility of co-captain of the Eagles.

High Schools

April 18, 2004|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

Where once she followed, Chelsea Parks now leads.

That's the role the Centennial junior midfielder has assumed this season for an Eagles lacrosse team that graduated nine seniors from last season's Class 2A-1A North region finalist.

It's a responsibility that Parks, the only returning All-County first-team selection from last year's list of honorees, is learning to accept.

"It's new for me," said Parks, who co-captains Centennial with senior defender Brooke Zeitler. "I've never been a captain before, but I like it. I feel like the team responds well, and I love the team."

Love is a word that comes naturally for Parks when it relates to lacrosse. Parks, who initially played softball for seven years, dropped the sport when she discovered lacrosse as a sixth-grader.

Parks, who often spends two to three hours every Saturday practicing on her own, even slept with a new lacrosse stick the night before tryouts last month to develop a connection with it - much as basketball players sleep with basketballs.

"I just slept with it because it was new," she said. "Just to feel comfortable with it."

That kind of dedication convinced Eagles coach Katie Marks to attach the captain label next to Parks' name. Marks said she witnessed Parks, a three-year varsity starter, immersing herself with her teammates and trying to learn more from the upperclassmen.

More importantly, Marks said, Parks absorbed what she could by watching former players like Kelly Renzi, Alex Hope and Elizabeth Foley.

"She had a few players last year that were really influential in helping her move and grow as a player," Marks said. "But right now, she is kind of taking on that leadership role herself. ... I think it was hard transitioning in the beginning of the year, but she's really transitioned smoothly."

Said Parks: "They taught me to work hard and to never give up and to take things one day at a time. I used to get so upset over games, but they told me to learn from the games and to learn from your mistakes. That's what I'm trying to do."

Parks' strength as a player stems from her ability to create on the offensive end. Her relentless nature helped her register 43 goals and 22 assists last season.

Opponents familiar with Parks have thrown their best defenders or double teams at her to limit her opportunities. That's another wrinkle that Parks - who has posted just three goals and four assists in four games this spring - is adjusting to.

"It's frustrating, but I guess I have to learn from it," she said. "It just makes me realize that it's not all going to be easy. I definitely have to work harder."

Parks said she also hopes to improve on her aggressive nature. Parks, who drew a red card in Centennial's 8-4 loss to Glenelg on March 30, acknowledges that she can be overly competitive when it comes to chasing after loose balls.

Marks said it's not uncommon for young players to have to learn to adjust their styles of play.

"It's a matter of composing yourself as a player on the field and knowing when to be aggressive and when not to be," Marks said. "It's not that Chelsea doesn't know the difference. I just think she wants to be a part of everything on the field."

That element is what endears Parks to her teammates. Zeitler said Parks' work ethic motivates their teammates.

"She's the force on our team," Zeitler said. "She's always an intense player. She's always pushing her teammates."

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