By Adam Presswood
Elsberry’s Matt Parrinello has been a strong and consistent presence for the IndianHawks for the majority of the last three years, and he is now facing the twilight of his high school football career.
What some may find surprising, however, is that for most of his career Parrinello has been without the support of any of his Elsberry classmates.
“I started playing varsity my sophomore year and somehow I ended up being the only one from Elsberry in my grade to stick it out,” said Parrinello.
Fortunately, Parrinello’s personality enabled him to shoulder that responsibility rather easily.
“Matt is a vocal leader and he inspires the other guys to play their best,” said IndianHawks Head Coach Mike Scheibel. “He’s the only senior from Elsberry and that can be hard on a kid, but he does a good job taking that responsibility.”
“It doesn’t really bother me,” added Parrinello. “These Clopton guys are my brothers and they’ve been with me since eighth grade.”
Scheibel went on to say that Parrinello has intensified his leadership abilities during his final season.
“Matt has been a great leader for us during this past season,” said Scheibel. “He is one of our team captains because of his dedication to this program.”
Scheibel believes Parrinello’s energy and dedication will enable him to succeed at the next level.
“I hope Matt can be successful in college,” said Scheibel. “I’m trying to get him on a roster somewhere. He is a passionate individual and that will help him in the future at whatever he does.”
Parrinello is a very driven person who is determined to excel, and football is the only sport that has ever suited his competitive nature.
“I really enjoy football,” said Parrinello. “It’s the only sport that has ever fulfilled me. Going out there on the field makes my heart race and gets my adrenaline going.”
But that isn’t always enough.
In fact, Parrinello isn’t usually satisfied unless his teammates experience the same adrenaline rush that he craves for himself.
“I think I’m a fairly vocal leader and I like yelling at the other guys to get them pumped up,” said Parrinello.
Despite his obvious dedication and work ethic, Parrinello said there is one area where he knows he definitely failed to take the initiative.
“This summer was really the only time that I hit the weight room hard,” said Parrinello. “I should have done a lot more lifting during my off seasons.”
That missed opportunity aside, Parrinello is certainly leaving high school football with more good memories than bad and he said one memory in particular will always stand out in his mind.
“Winning districts in 2010 was the best moment of my football career,” said Parrinello. “It was amazing.”
Parrinello is undecided with regard to sports after high school, as well as his potential major, but said that he is definitely headed to college.
“I’m not sure if I’m going to play football in college,” said Parrinello. “I’m going to St. Charles Community College free for two years through the A+ Program. After that I will probably transfer to a bigger school.”
Wherever he ends up and whatever he chooses to do, Parrinello is confident that playing football has helped him develop at least some of the traits he will need to be successful.
“I think football has taught me leadership skills,” said Parrinello. “It has helped me grow from a boy to a man. I think this sport builds character in just about every respect.”
That type of character development wouldn’t have been possible if Parrinello didn’t have the support of one very important person.
“I’d like to thank my mom,” said Parrinello. “She didn’t really want me to play football. She was afraid that I would be hurt or that I would hurt someone else. She got over that,and now she comes to as many games as she can.”
The IndianHawks may be losing Parrinello, but he has his eyes on an underclassman who he feels can easily fill his spot.
“Scott Kuntz has really stepped up a lot,” said Parrinello. “He’s only a freshman but he’s really going to be something to deal with.”
Parrinello’s advice to Kuntz and other younger players was all too predictable for those of us who have ever looked back and wondered where the time went.
“Work your tail off and don’t take it for granted,” said Parrinello. “It goes by a lot faster than you think it will.”