Student-Athlete Spotlight: Sinkenesh Parker

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Samford Athletics is continuing the Student-Athlete Spotlight series, presented by Coca-Cola, which, this week, will highlight Sinkenesh Parker, a freshman on the cross-country and track and field teams.
Parker was born in Ethiopia but grew up in Florida with her adoptive parents. She also developed a serious medical condition at the age of 13 that caused a lot of problems early on in her life.
“Basically, the medical problem I had was a brain infection called encephalitis and that caused me to have trouble speaking,” Parker said. “When I was adopted, I was adopted on the older side, so I already had to learn English and learn school all over. And I was already late, so when I had the brain infection, it just caused me to kind of be on a setback of learning again. mostly writing classes and math and just learning new patterns again. So, that has been one of the biggest things.”
Having left Ethiopia at a very young age, she said she does not have too many memories of her time there, but occasionally some memories will surface.
“A lot of it is kind of a mixed memory of everything,” Parker said. “So, I think my brain infection kind of blurred everything together. But I do have some certain memories that just pop up throughout the day. I’ll recognize something and say, oh, that’s like Ethiopia.”
Parker talked a little about how she got started in cross-country and track and field.
“I did start running, I believe, in fifth grade with my sister on a club team,” Parker said. “And then I watched my sister run for my school and it was track. So, I was like, hey I want to do track that looks like so much fun. It’s competitive and you get to see everyone and compete. So, the next year I was put into cross-country for my school, and I stuck with it. Plus, my sisters were on the team, so it was family and a community, so that was a big start to it. I was just growing with our team and my sisters. I think I began to realize that this is something I can use my gifts to glorify God and help others out and just run my heart out.
“During that whole situation of my brain injury, that was the beginning side of my school cross-country, realizing, hey this is something I can take far with me,” Parker said. “Throughout that whole situation there was other stuff I was working on like iron and I had trouble running in general and I was so close to giving up. And once I passed all of that, all those challenges, I was told not to quit and everything, not realizing, looking back it’s something that has pushed me, just learning to work even harder over the challenges. That’s one of the things I realized, running is something that can help you grow.”
Parker talked a little about what brought her to Samford.
“Honestly, I was looking through all the colleges,” Parker said. “My mom and I went through, and we saw Samford. We heard through a friend, Samford’s a good running program, good Christian community. I’m not quite sure when that started but I know it wasn’t my first school I looked at, and so when I looked at that one, it checked off all my boxes. In the end it came through and it worked out.”
Parker has had a pair of strong performances so far this season. She and her teammates will compete in the SoCon Championships this weekend. She talked a little about how she is feeling heading into the conference meet.
“I’m feeling pretty confident in my team and in myself,” Parker said. “I’m just hoping to do my best for them. I think we’re in a good spot.”
The Samford cross-country teams will compete in the Southern Conference championships this Saturday in Lexington, Va. The women’s race begins at 9 a.m. CT, with the men’s race set for 9:45 a.m. CT. For more information on the meet, click on the following link: MEET HOME PAGE.
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