Grimes Parker deserves recognition

Published 10:30 am Thursday, June 27, 2019

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Who wants to spend a week with a bunch of elementary age kids all excited about being out of school for the summer? In a gym, where they have plenty of room to run and scream?

Grimes “Bimmy (Buy-Me)” Parker, that’s who. And a bunch of his relatives, friends and neighbors do, too. And for the past 10 years, they’ve done just that. The Grimes Parker Basketball Camp just finished its 10th year. Young boys and girls from across the Cooleemee School district gathered in the gym every day for a week to learn some fundamentals of basketball. They learned other things, too. They learned to respect and listen to the coaches. They learned how to be a good sport, whether winning or losing. They learned how to be a member of a team.

And they go home with a new pair of shoes and a new basketball – green and white, of course – the camp colors.

My granddaughter, fresh off of her kindergarten year, came to our house on Saturday, that new green and white basketball in hand. She had learned to dribble, and wanted to show off. She was pretty good at it, too. Basketball may not end up being her thing, but now she has a foundation to build upon.

The camp isn’t thrown together at the last minute. Plans start months before the first ball hits the court. High school coaches and players need to be recruited. A former college coach happily volunteers his time every year. They’ve had doctors to check the vision of each child. Volunteers are in charge of registering, others in charge of refreshments. And they have to find sponsors, too. Those shoes and basketballs don’t come in for free.

Bimmy and all those volunteers have one thing in common.

They love children. They want them to be successful and happy. And if basketball ends up being their thing, they want them to be the best player they can be. It’s a pretty good life lesson, as well. Yes, sports can teach much more than a game. They help young people become well rounded adults. Some sports can be played for a lifetime, another plus for the current video generation. We have to move.

A retired educator and coach, Parker, quite the athlete himself, has spent most of his life helping young people – whether it be in the classroom, on the court or on a ball field.

Being raised on the other side of Mocksville from Cooleemee, I never had the chance to be on one of his teams. You could tell by looking at him that he was tough – that he expected you to do your best. He wanted you to be your best. Coaches like that don’t come along that often. Just by being themselves, they inspire young players to do their best.

At the end of camp last week, the gymnasium at Cooleemee Elementary School was named the “Grimes H. Parker Gynmasium.” It was an honor well deserved. It was the right thing to do.

Now, future generations will know about the man who spent his life helping make good citizens out of young boys and girls.

Hopefully, it will inspire some of these young people to grow up and be responsible adults. Those camp volunteers won’t be around forever, but the camp can – with the help of some of those who Bimmy influenced over the years.

Keep up the good work, Cooleemee. You folks epitomize what a small town should be.

– Mike Barnhardt