Smithville’s Destani Parsons – Athlete Spotlight Presented by McCurtain County National Bank

By Nick Hampton

Sometimes being a team leader isn’t about on-field performance. Sometimes it’s about being there for your teammates and setting an example of perseverance when you can’t play or are going through a rough patch. Destani Parsons is one of those kinds of leaders.

Now a Smithville senior, Destani transferred halfway through her freshman year so had to sit out from playing basketball and softball that year. 

“Just before school started my sophomore year, I tore my ACL and missed that whole year and fast pitch my junior year,” said Parsons. “And then last fall I broke my leg and missed fast pitch season again, so this spring will be just the second season I’ve gotten to play since I’ve been here.”

While it would have been easy to throw in the towel at some point in all of this rehab, Destani stuck with it demonstrating how to be a good leader without lifting a bat.

“One of the toughest parts of not being able to play was having people think I was the team manager. I just wanted to get a T-shirt that said ‘Not the manager’ on it,” she laughed. “But I kept team stats and whenever one of the girls was having a problem, they would come to me and I would try to help them figure it out.  That really made me still feel part of the team and be a team leader and that meant a lot to me.”

Her coach Lexi Watson realizes the important part she has played even as an observer.

“She’s one of those seniors that you never want to graduate. The girls look up to her more than she knows. If one of them is struggling, she’s over talking to them even if she’s struggling herself,” said the Lady Braves coach.

Destani got her start in softball, under fire so to speak.

“My older brother Brandon was a pitcher at Battiest and he made me catch for him when I was little. He was tough on me but I think that’s helped give me the strength to deal with all of these setbacks,” said Parsons, who is also active FCCLA and a member of the state and national honor societies. “My grandfather who passed away this past summer was also a big influence in my life. Whenever I was in a slump he would go out and practice with me.”

With only 10 players on the roster and her two seniors somewhat limited, Watson knows it will be an uphill season for her girls.

“Destani and our other senior Hannah Caldwell both have leg braces on but they’ll both be out there doing what they can,” said Watson. “Even though she should be careful, Destani is one of those players that it doesn’t do any good to tell her not to dive or slide.”

Again, setting the example.

“It’s my last season to play so I plan to go out with a bang and give it my all,” said Parsons, who plays second base for the Lady Braves. “I’m working with the shortstop to try to cover more ground and help out Hannah who’s our pitcher because she’s limited in her mobility. That’s the kind of thing a team leader should do.”