First Batch of Parker Nork Sportsmanship Awards Dealt to 27 Stafford Recreation Athletes

By DAVID BIGGY | Jun 12, 2019
Photo by: David Biggy SMALL ARMY: On June 6, Stafford Recreation athletes received the inaugural sportsmanship awards in memory of classmate Parker M. Nork.

Stafford Township — At the outset of his brief commentary on June 6, Rafael Torres described for the audience inside the Stafford Township Arts Center his first impressions of Parker Nork.

“I immediately fell in love with the kid,” said Torres, moments before announcing the 27 recipients of the first batch of Parker M. Nork Student-Athlete Sportsmanship Awards, given to Stafford Recreation athletes nominated throughout the school year. “He was never the biggest, never the strongest, never the most athletic. But he brought a passion for the game and was a true sportsman in every sense of the word.”

With several hundred family members, coaches and friends on hand for the inaugural event, Parker’s mother, Kim, welcomed those attending before giving the mic up to Torres, who had coached Parker in lacrosse prior to his passing on March 11, 2017, at just 9 years old, just three weeks after a leukemia diagnosis.

“No matter what his role was on the team, Parker demonstrated characteristics of sportsmanship,” Torres said. “His love for the game, his teammates and any competitor he faced is what made him so special. That’s why this award is so special to me. It exemplifies everything Parker was about.”

Nominated by coaches or organization presidents and representing seven athletic groups in Stafford, the original “Parker Award” recipients are Conner Kerlin, Sean Byrnes, Trevor Kerlin, Vincent Ruta, Alex Fowler, Gabriella Quick, Sabrina Guzewicz, Kayla Statlend, Isla Carvajal, Kai Angelozzi, Avery Smith, Symphonie Linnert, Madelyn Donahue, Shaelyn Haynes, Sarah DiGaetano, Angelica Charterina, Gia Passarella, Lilly Casella, Lukas Iliescu, Saylor Roma, Conner Walsh, Evan Wyrsch, Aidyn Wade, Konner Forlai, Arianna Kelly, Isabella Compitello and Sophia Maggion.

“I’m so proud of these kids,” Kim Nork said. “I’m really happy about the turnout for tonight. It was awesome to see all these kids with their families because it indicated to me that they really were appreciative and excited about getting one of Parker’s Sportsmanship Awards. Parker would have loved this.”

Compitello said she was shocked to learn she had been nominated.

“Parker was one of my best friends in second and third grades,” said Isabella, nominated for her great sportsmanship in basketball. “He taught me sportsmanship, really. Every day, we would play sports, but it didn’t matter to him who won or who lost because, in his mind, everybody was a winner.”

Forlai, nominated for his winning attitude as part of Stafford Lacrosse, was equally surprised he was selected.

“I just try to be nice to all my teammates because if you play as a team you win as a team,” he said. “And if they’re not doing something right, just help them out. I knew Parker from being in the same speech class, and he was really nice and very athletic. He was kind and didn’t boss anybody around.”

The Kerlin brothers also knew Parker a little bit, but didn’t have much interaction with him. Still, they knew enough about him to know why these awards were special.

“He was very nice and always helped other students,” Trevor said. “It’s cool to be part of the first group to get these awards.”

Of course, the goal for next year is to make sure more of the town’s recreation organizations are involved, considering a handful weren’t represented in any way the first time around.

“I would love to come here next year, fill this place and give out 50 or 100 of these awards and give more kids recognition for being good sports,” Peter Nork said. “We want kids to strive for these awards, to compete with each other to be the best sportsmen and -women they can be. The plan is to keep building on this.”

As the Parker’s Army athletic director, Torres is excited about what the future holds for the “Parker Awards.”

“Hopefully we have more nominations next year, because every team has one of these kids on it and we know it,” he said. “Each one of these kids might not be the best athletes on their teams, but their hearts were always in the right place. Just reading the nominations and listening to the coaches talk about each kid’s characteristics, we were falling in love with them without even knowing most of them. They’re the glue that holds a team together, and that was Parker.”

For more information about the Nork Sportsmanship Award and anything related to Parker’s Army, visit parkersarmy.com

— David Biggy.

biggy@thesandpaper.net

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