God has a plan… Hughes not allowing time away from football to create a detour

Published 2:38 pm Tuesday, April 21, 2020

When Parker Hughes arrived at T.A. Dugger, it didn’t take long on the Jr. Cyclone football coaching staff to realize that they had inherited a special playmaker.
Fans could easily pick Hughes out of every player on the field by the flashy gold cleats he wore during his games as his play always seemed to match the color of his shoes.
Fast forward almost four years and now Hughes will be entering his final campaign as a rising Cyclone senior and still his play draws a lot of attention as evidenced by the number of college coaches who are calling his head coach Shawn Witten and personally reaching out to Hughes via mail and email.
Hughes probably made the biggest game change when he personally decided to get bigger and stronger in the weight room in his junior season as when he took the field he looked more like Ivan Drago, the Russian boxer who took on Rocky Balboa in the movie Rocky IV, as he had chiseled his body into a muscular specimen.
The additional strength came into play big time for Hughes as there wasn’t a defender around that could pull away a 50-50 ball thrown Hughes way by his quarterback and the ability to plow over defenders after making the catch.
Now Hughes is like so many other prep football players just hoping for the weight rooms and football fields to open back up after waiting out the COVID-19 pandemic that shut down most of the spring semester for students and educators.
“It’s really shown me not to take things for granted such as spending time with family, friends, and going out to eat and working out with my teammates,” Hughes said.
With Hughes entering his senior season and his Cyclones returning as the defending Class 4A BlueCross Bowl State Champions, the Cyclones were ready to return to work knowing the recipe to get to the state championship contest and ready to prove that 2019 wasn’t a fluke.
COVID-19 threw up a big detour sign but Hughes has continued to remain focused on what lies ahead.
“Physically it has not affected me as much I have a routine at home I follow daily,” Hughes stated. “Mentally not being able to spend time with my teammates and coaches has brought me down but I know once this virus is over we are gonna work twice as hard.
“Coach texts us daily and he really keeps us motivated by sending us texts, asking how things are going and if we need anything. Personally he has motivated me to work even harder and I know as a team we all appreciate him reaching out.”
Being a rising senior, Hughes also has worked to take on a leadership role with the rest of the rising Cyclone seniors. The senior class as a whole respects each other and it has helped that they have set up a group chat to help keep one another motivated through their workouts and holding one another accountable.
One of Hughes’s aspirations is to play college football and with the season he had last year, college suitors were making plans on coming to check out the wide receiver and defensive back during spring football practice.
And while for many young teenagers like Hughes who have dreamed about this day arriving only to end up sitting on the sidelines during this historic time in American history, Hughes continues to maintain a positive outlook looking to a higher power for guidance in each step he takes.
“I think everything happens for a reason,” Hughes said. “There were some bigger schools coming to look at me during spring practices.
“I think God has a plan for me and whatever happens, happens but I am gonna work as hard as I can to be the best version of myself.
“There have been many different colleges that have reached out during this break. That has really helped me stay motivated and focused on this season and my future.”

With work being limited as far as football goes when the players return there will have to be a sense of urgency to prepare for whatever season the teams will be allowed to participate in.

Hughes said that one of the keys for the Cyclones to have success will be not to talk about what led them to their state title but actually lead by example in showing his teammates how to make that happen.

“I think when we get back we should show the younger guys how we worked last year and how that paid off for us keep that same mentality into this season and show them what it takes to be a championship team,” commented Hughes.

“I  would tell them that I missed you guys! Let’s get back to work.”

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Hughes’ family has been super supportive of his athletic endeavors every step of the way. In difficult times like this for a teenager, that support is often rediscovered in many ways when one can’t be with their teammates.

“They are supportive always making sure I have food on the table and they keep me straight. I am thankful for that,” Hughes added.

In the meantime, Hughes is like all his other teammates and fellow athletes as they await word on when things can resume back the way they were.

But Hughes also has placed his hand and life in the one that knows all things and wherever the path may lead, Hughes is ready to face it head-on just like a defender standing between him and the goal line.