An athlete who is exciting to watch every game is rare to come across; a student athlete who is exciting to watch every game and does well in his or her academics is even more special.
Freshman outside hitter Jazminn Parrish is this unique student athlete.
Parrish has always liked to play sports, but it was in the sixth grade when she began to play volleyball after gaining interest from seeing her older sister, Tyra Parrish, play in high school.
Parrish has always carried a lot of pride in herself and in her work, whether it be in her academics, athletics or art. Her mother, Angelica Parrish, has continued to push her to do the best she possibly can and motivates her to keep striving.
“She would be like, ‘If you don’t keep up with your grades, I’m going to pull you out of volleyball,’ so that motivated me to get good grades,” Parrish said. “But, that’s also my mindset too. One of my goals is to have good grades and be a student athlete.”
Other than her mother, a great inspiration of Parrish is Hall of Fame baseball player and African American advocate, Jackie Robinson.
Parrish follows Robinson’s determination and perseverance throughout her tenacity. She tries to beat all odds and come out on top even when she’s at a disadvantage, just as Robinson did when all odds were against him, being ridiculed as the first African American Major League Baseball player in the United States.
“He overcame all of the negative energy, people who hated him, people that didn’t even know him. He was able to be successful despite everyone putting him down,” Parrish said. “Despite how many fans he had, he was able to make a mark on the world and give African Americans pride and confidence. (And) that we can do anything despite what anyone else says; that’s why he inspires me.”
In her high school years, Parrish received many awards for both her volleyball and track and field performances and her honor roll academics. The award she is most proud of achieving is the 2019 Ron Waldrum Female Senior Athlete Award, which is an award given to athletes that excelled in two sports while earning honor roll recognition.
“That’s my most favorite award,” Parrish said. “I didn’t think I was going to go (to the ceremony) because I didn’t have a ride, but I showed up and I happen(ed) to be put up on the big screen. All my friends were going crazy and I was like ‘Wait, what’s happening.’ And then I looked up and my face was on the screen; it was a shocker.”
It wasn’t until one of Parrish’s club volleyball games in which head coach of Cal Poly Pomona’s volleyball team, Traci Dahl, took notice of her.
“I saw Jazminn in a club tournament in San Diego. I was out recruiting, and I was watching that particular match and I saw her playing,” Dahl said. “I thought, I got to recruit this player because she was absolutely amazing on the court. I emailed her that evening and we got in contact. And she ended up coming on a visit and the rest is history.”
Coming into CPP, Parrish wanted to continue playing volleyball and study a major that combines three of her favorite things to do: draw, be creative and think outside the box. Parrish is an outstanding artist and drew a piece specifically for her volleyball team. Coach Dahl hangs this piece in her office and uses it to see their upcoming games.
“She drew for us a ladder with all of our conference teams on it and she drew all of the mascots and the names and it was just the most amazing piece of artwork,” Dahl said. “She’s a very good artist and she can basically draw anything freehand.”
Parrish leads her team in kills with 185 so far, which is especially amazing since she is only a freshman and is particularly short for her position. Standing at 5 feet 7 inches, Parrish is still able to dominate with her strength and leaping ability to elevate and hit around blockers that are taller than 6 feet.
“She’s a very focused player I would say on and off the court,” sophomore setter Kira Zimmerman said. “When hitters can (hit like) that, it helps themselves be more successful, which in turn makes the rest of the team more successful. So, it’s definitely exciting and everyone loves to see it.”
Parrish is focused on getting her degree in civil engineering, but will also play volleyball professionally if given the opportunity. She is not concerned if that opportunity never arises because she will still be grateful to build creative projects that will help others whether it be for entertainment or humanity.