From flag football to tackle football, Jake Parks has always wanted to be on the gridiron.
Now a senior at JSerra Catholic High School, the 17-year-old and three-year varsity player has found his place on the offensive line for the Lions, where he enjoys the relationships he’s developed as much as he does blocking his opponent.
“I love the camaraderie and the friendships you earn,” says Parks. “It’s really fun.”
His first taste as a varsity starter came his sophomore year, a challenge Parks faced with the help of several upperclassmen who helped show him the ropes and what it meant to play football in the Trinity League. Now, as a team leader and captain, he’s passing that guidance down to his younger teammates.
“I try to be more of a leader by example,” says Parks. “I try to be the first one in the weight room…always push myself in school. Nothing is given. You have to earn everything. You have to work when nobody is looking.”
Utilized in several OL positions by the coaching staff, Parks’ powerful blocking skills have made him a “tremendous” player and leader for the Lions and will set him up for a strong season his senior year.
“Jake is always very inclusive, drawing his teammates into the fold,” says JSerra varsity football head coach, Pat Harlow. “He has also picked up on some of the intricacies of the (offensive line) position, figuring out what defenses are trying to do against us and using this information to execute his assignment.”
During the spring, Parks puts his skills and quick feet to use for the Lions’ track and field team, where the Huntington Beach resident competes in the discus and shot put events.
Outside of athletics, Parks enjoys serving through the peer ministries at his church, guiding kids through the confirmation process.
“It’s just really fun because I was in that same position they’re in,” says Parks. “I know what they’re thinking and what their thoughts are. It’s fun to give back.”
And his faith keeps him grounded in all aspects, whether he’s serving youth or standing on the line of scrimmage.
“My faith definitely guides me to be a better athlete and person,” says Parks. “Jesus suffered so much and sometimes in the workout…I just think of him on that cross…it helps push me through.”
Parks is looking to play Division I football in college and study physical therapy, goals he feels he will attain thanks to the motivation and guidance of Harlow, whom he’s been working with since eighth grade.
“He’s taught me the ins and outs of the game and the mindset it takes to be a good athlete and a good person,” says Parks of Harlow. “He always tells us, great athletes aren’t just good on the field. They’re good in the classroom and out in the real world.”