Parker a Proud Two-Sport Senior Leader for Valley
No matter which time of the year Mykenzie Parker has a stick in her hand for Valley Regional High School, she does it with great pride in her squad and equal satisfaction in performing for her fellow peers alongside her.
The Warriors’ senior field hockey attacker and girls’ lacrosse defender began the latter sport around six years ago and finally played for Valley her sophomore year following the COVID-induced cancellation of her freshman season. She additionally did not hold a field hockey stick until her freshman campaign, but quickly took to the sport and emerged as a stellar senior leader for both squads this year.
“I always knew I wanted to play lacrosse. It was great playing with friends, and it opened up my shell from being shy,” says Mykenzie. “I am a person who does not like to give up, and even though we had a tough season this year for lax, determination was key for me. Having my friends with me was also motivation for me. When I started field hockey, I knew I had to talk it over with my mom, and she really helped me enjoy it. She motivated me to try it and get out of my comfort zone.”
As a defender on the lax turf, Mykenzie mentions it can prove daunting to try and delay a frenetic-paced opposing offense, though it is a challenge that paves way to show the importance of communication and tenacious play.
“I have always been aggressive as a player, and I love trying to get the ball back and defending. It makes me more powerful. Plus, you have to communicate a lot; it is a great experience to lead on defense,” Mykenzie says. “It can be hard going against faster teams that can break fast, especially in 1-v-1 scenarios. It is stressful, because it all depends on my skill. It is almost like a reward to get the ball back.”
Mykenzie’s fall foray in athletics taught her to get away from tunnel vision and always have her head on a swivel. In addition, it gave her a crucial boost to her swiftness in the springtime.
“Field hockey showed me that you cannot look only at the ball; you have to look up. There is also a lot of eye-speed coordination. It also taught me foot work and how to speed dodge. Playing attack for field hockey taught me to stay on my feet, and I had to run a lot more,” says Mykenzie. “I was scared as a freshman, but seeing the upperclassmen, I knew I had to step up my game. I told myself that I could push myself to do different things. I tell the underclassmen now that they can step out of their comfort zone and accomplish new things if they push themselves.”
Valley Regional girls’ lacrosse and field hockey Head Coach Randy Netsch notes that Mykenzie truly dictates the pace of play for the team on the field while giving her maximum effort on a consistent and daily basis.
“Mykenzie deserves to be recognized due to her excellent defensive skills, and the fact that she just works hard every day,” says Netsch. “Mykenzie is often the first defender to step up and slow down the opponent’s first attacker with the ball, which helps slow play down, so our remaining defenders can drop into position and set the defense. She always has a great attitude and can lift everyone’s mood on the team. Mykenzie is one of those players that goes out there every day and gives you everything she has. I have had the great fortune of coaching Mykenzie for four years in lacrosse and field hockey, and it will be hard to replace a player like her.”
Valley’s postseason fortunes may have taken a 180-degree turn on the lacrosse front, yet Mykenzie surmises that the season was certainly successful from the standpoint of team synergy and squad newcomers feeling comfortable around the program.
“We were undefeated last regular season, but this year we did not make the Shoreline or state tournaments,” Mykenzie says. “It was upsetting, but it was important to me that we had freshmen new to the sport who were passionate about it, and we connected on that level. I wanted to help make it all a positive experience for the freshmen. We did a lot of team bonding events, and we made it where we were all able to talk openly.”
While Mykenize will miss making her mark on the field next fall, she eternally shows her gratitude for Netsch’s tutelage and knowledge and the journey of leading a tandem of Valley teams.
“Sports have always had an impact on me, and Coach Netsch has always been there for me,” says Mykenzie. “I am grateful he was my coach for both sports at Valley. He made me more passionate about lacrosse, and I want to be a role model for others for that sport. It was a really great experience the past four years, and I will miss both sports.”