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Matt Harrison and Will Parker are proven winners despite untimely injuries

The Union Recorder March 19, 2010 Bound like brothers during their careers, GMC Prep’s Matt Harrison and Will Parker are proven winners despite untimely injuries Keith Jump MILLEDGEVILLE — In high school, your senior year is the one all students look forward to for many reasons. But if an injury were to occur to an athlete, it has to be a special person to be able to carry on in a positive way. Georgia Military Prep School has had two young men suffer serious injuries in the last few weeks, both unfortunate, but the school is fortunate to have students of such stature to representing their school. Seniors Will Parker and Matthew Harrison are this week’s Union- Recorder Co-Players of the Week, and both are student-athletes that all of Baldwin County can be proud of. Parker had already finished a stellar football career as GMC Prep’s starting quarterback and was finishing his basketball career and looking forward to his last year on the diamond at Craig Field. But in the last game of the Bulldog basketball season Parker had his thumb turned and twisted in such a way that surgery was the only option. “I knew after the game when I was moving my thumb around and it was moving more than usual I had a problem,” said Parker. “But I didn’t worry, though, because I knew this was part of God’s plan for my life. I knew I was going to be OK no matter what happened.” The injury has not stopped Parker from being a presence on the baseball team, because now, until he returns as player, he will be a coach that the younger players can look to as a mentor. “I want my teammates to know I’m still there for them even though I’m not on the field right now. I want them to hear me pulling for them from the bench,” Parker said. Parker went on to say he wants all those around him to see him leading by example, whether on the field or on the bench — and to have that “fire” to win at all times. “Coach [Garry] Couch is one of the greatest coaches I’ve ever known and I have the utmost respect for him. When he jumps your case it’s because he is trying to get the best from you and is showing you how to succeed,” Parker said. Also important to Parker and his life are his parents. “God blessed me with great parents, and there aren’t enough words to tell you how much my mom and dad mean to me and how much I love them. I’m lucky to have the support and love of my parents, as well as my step-parents,” Parker said. As for his injury he hopes to have only a few more weeks before he may be able to get back in his comfort zone. “I don’t know why but I feel at home on the mound and I want to get back as quick as possible,” he said. Harrison, less than three weeks since his injury, is already counting the days until he can get back on the diamond. “I’m suppose to get out of this cast April 1, and then I’m hoping to get therapy quickly so I can come back and help my team,” said Harrison. The injury that happened to Harrison was one that could have been much more devastating than it seemed at the time. “I thought I could feel the ball under me so I tried to make sure my foot was on the plate. But then I reached down and knew something bad had happened because my leg was not pointing the right way,” said Harrison when recalling his injury. But with the spirit of a true teammate, Harrison made one of the most unselfish comments ever to be heard on Craig Field: “I’m sorry Rick” — a comment he made to teammate Rick Griffin as he lay on the field surrounded by teammates, coaches, parents and emergency staff. And according to Judy Harrison, Matt’s mother, that’s when a mini miracle occurred. “The EMT that was able to put Matthew’s broken leg back in place had God’s hands on his. He put the leg back in such a way that Matt did not need surgery, so God blessed us there,” said Mrs. Harrison. Also, one of those athletes that excel in many venues, Harrison was a standout Bulldog football player as well as a three-time state qualifier in two separate events in swimming. And that may be what propels Harrison back to the baseball diamond, as his doctor informed him that those who swim sometimes actually heal quicker than those who don’t. After graduation, Harrison wants to attend UGA even though he’s not sure of what he’ll major in at this point. “I really want to play but I know Christ has a plan for me and I accept it. I try to do things the right way all the time, and I hope everyone knows that,” said Harrison. Also blessed with great family support, Harrison said his mom and dad have always done anything they could for him and his siblings. “I want to tell my mom and dad thank you and let them know how much I love them,” he said. His brother, Josh, is a standout athlete at JMA who he said made him better as they always were competing against one another. Harrison also said he is very proud to know that Nolan Baugh is the person who stepped in as catcher after his injury. “Nolan is a great baseball player so I’m glad to know he will be there helping the team. And I will help him anyway I can,” said Harrison. So, for their accomplishments on the football field, the basketball court, in the swimming pool and on the baseball diamond over their four years at GMC, Matthew Harrison and Will Parker are this week’s UR Co-Players of the Week.