Giving Back

STATESVILLE, N.C. - Most college athletes would use a day off from school and football practice to head to the beach or hang out with friends, but Clemson two-sport standout Kyle Parker spent Friday helping run a baseball camp for kids in North Carolina.

Athletics have been very important to Kyle Parker and his family over the past few years, but it might not be quite in the way you think.

Sure, Kyle had a sensational high school career both in baseball and football, and has already been named as an All-ACC performer in baseball in his first semester of college at Clemson. And even his father played college football at Vanderbilt before a six-year career as a wide receiver in the NFL.

But a closer inspection reveals more. Much more.

By now you've probably heard about the Parker family raising money to help build a football in the extreme cold of Barrow, Alaska.

"Project Alaska Turf" helped bring a turf football field to a high school football team in Barrow, Alaska. The driving force behind the field was to help build interest in the football program in an area where there were high suicide rate, high dropout rates and drug use.

In all, they've helped raise over $850,000 for that project alone.

In fact, just last week Kyle's mother, Cathy and Kyle's younger brother were in Barrow, along with several coaches from Bartram Trail High School and others, trying to help the football program learn more about conditioning programs and other activities that can be done year round to help develop the team.

But now the Parkers are trying to take their ability to give back to another level with a new non-profit organization called Athletes to Champions.

The mission of Athletes to Champions is to promote youth athletics in areas where sports provide much needed structure and guidance for kids who might otherwise follow less wholesome paths.

"It has been very important to us because we have been able to see some great things happen to our kids because of athletics," said Kyle's father, Carl Parker. "We think it really changes lives of young men. There is not another arena where you go in and you develop discipline, learn to play as a team and learn some of the things that you need to really be a great person.

"We formed Athletes to Champions off of Project Alaska. We are here in Statesville working with a group of young men. About 30 young men have at least one of their parents in prison. We are just trying to make a difference in their lives and it's a great group of people. We have explained to them some things about character development and helped them with the game of baseball."

"We are just trying to make a difference in their lives and it's a great group of people. We have explained to them some things about character development and helped them with the game of baseball," said Carl Parker. (WATCH INTERVIEW: )
This past week Athletes to Champions worked with a group called Power Cross to provide a three-day Christian-based baseball camp for young men in Statesville, N.C. Among some of the notable players in attendance included several former Bartram Trail standouts, including Kyle Parker, FSU pitcher Hunter Scantley and Wake Forest LB Scotty Betros.

After an intense week of offseason workouts with the Clemson football team, Kyle arrived late Thursday night to work with the kids all day Friday.

"It has been awesome," he said. "I wish I could have gotten up here a little earlier, but I had football workouts. I drove up last night and it is just a blessing. God has really blessed these kids and he is doing a whole lot over here. I am just helping them out and bringing a good experience. I am just trying to bring some joy to these kids' lives by bringing sports. It is just awesome."

Considering his family's background with charity work in recent years, it's not surprising to learn Kyle looked right at home playing with the young men at the camp.

"I have had younger brothers and I've been around younger kids all of my life. These kids are awesome. They are unlike any kids I've ever met before in my life. They are so accepting. You can tell they enjoy playing out there.

"Yesterday they said they got done playing baseball and went to Bible study around 8:30 or 9. Right when that was done they were back out there playing a wiffle ball game. They love baseball. If you think about it that's all they really have to do is come out here and play baseball. That is why this organization Athletes to Champions is so awesome. It gives kids another thing. When they go home their home lives are not that great.

"It is just awesome to open up a place where they can come and feel safe and have a good time, have food and just have an enjoyable time. They have people out here that care about them."

For more information on Athletes to Champions please visit the following website: Top Stories