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Parrish signs for Andrew College
The senior makes Redskins history in becoming the first-ever wrestler in the program’s history to sign a college letter of intent.
raul parrish signing (1)
Raul Parrish (center) surrounded by coaches and his wrestling teammates. Photo provided by Mike Brown.

As signings go, there was nothing out of the ordinary when Bryan County wrestler Raul Parrish signed a letter of intent last week to wrestle at Andrew College.

The entire process, which normally includes remarks from the coach and athlete before the athlete signs their name on a letter of intent, takes 10 minutes max.

However, those 10 minutes encapsulate several years of hard work, dedication, support from family and coaches and often overcoming adversities such as injuries that turned that young athlete into a scholarship athlete.

In becoming the first ever Bryan County wrestler – the school started its wrestling program four years ago--to sign to wrestle in college, Parrish offers himself up as a role model for those willing to pay the price to achieve a dream.

And to overcome any obstacles which may be placed in your way.

“My dream was to be a football player,” Parrish said when asked what drew him to wrestling. “But I did some research and learned most football players also wrestled. It helps hip mobility, helps you get faster on your feet and no one in any sport is conditioned like you are for wrestling.”

Although he played on both the offensive and defensive lines for the Redskins for four years, Parrish soon learned there’s not a great demand for 5-foot-6 linemen at the next level.

Although he played football this past season at 198 pounds, Parrish was in and out of the starting lineup due to an ACL injury he suffered as a junior. By this time, he knew if he had a future it was going to be in wrestling.

Wrestling coach Zach Ledbetter and football coach Cherard Freeman never questioned Parrish’s desire and dedication to their respective sports and they both said they were extremely proud of the person and leader he has become.

Unlike many of his peers, Parrish–who wrestles at 170 pounds and won one of his two matches in last weekend’s state team duals tournament–started life behind the eight-ball in the sense he had severe family issues to deal with at an early age.

Parrish touched on this in the prepared statement he gave prior to his signing.

After thanking everyone in attendance, the young athlete then went on to say:

“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for my mom and my aunt. They have raised me and pushed me to be a greater person than I could ever imagine. I truly am blessed to be a part of such an amazing family. I honestly never saw myself being in the position I am now. I thank my mother for coming into my life. I still remember being that little kid in the hospital waiting room seeing her walk in and me running up to her and giving her a hug not knowing at the time that she would be my mother. For that I can never repay her. The same for my aunt.”

“To Coach (Brad) Godbee and Coach Ledbetter, they have taught me more than being a great wrestler. They have taught me to be a man and a leader both on the mat and off [it]. They have both been amazing father figures in my life. They have been right beside me through a lot of personal battles of mine, and have always found ways to help me no matter what the fact was and I have been pushed to go to college and I can’t thank them enough for that.”

Afterwards, Parrish was asked about what went into that statement. He was open and honest in his response.

“I’m adopted and at the time I was being abused,” Parrish said. “I was at the hospital for something. I was five-years-old. I remember seeing my mom at the time. I didn’t know she was going to be my mom, I just looked at her and gave her a hug.

“I am so grateful to this day that I am able to call her Mom.”

When asked if he minded if his story was told Parrish did not hesitate in replying in the negative. 

“It [child abuse] goes on and people need to be made aware,” Parrish said. “If my story helps one kid then it’s worth it. I’ve got a great family and I’m loved and taken care of.”

Raul’s story

Parrish was born in Texas. Somehow, his birth mother had wound up in Statesboro and it was there he was in the hospital after being abused that he met Brandy Parrish and her sister Jeniffer Parrish.

Brandy Parrish remembers the day as if it was yesterday.

“It was Jan. 11 when we got a call from DFCS (Georgia Dept. of Human Services Division of Family and Child Services) because we were fostering at the time to go pick up some siblings who were in a neglectful situation,” Brandy said. “We picked him up---he had a swollen eye, a black eye, a huge knot on his head. He didn’t speak English. He had been beaten with a broom.”

Parrish was malnourished and had intestinal issues which prevented him from gaining weight among other things.

“He was a little boy, sweet as he could be,” Brandy said. “He couldn’t talk hardly at all so he has gone from being that beat up, malnourished little boy to what he is today.

“He has worked so hard,” Brandy said. “He started out (school) in an IEP program and then in about the fourth or fifth grade he got into advanced classes. Everything he has done since he has been determined to succeed.”

“I’m extremely proud of the man he has become. He didn’t know how to deal with his feelings or emotions. Looking back and seeing who he is now, how much he has changed and matured…he has come a long way.”

Obviously, Parrish has learned to deal with and overcome a lot of issues to become a scholarship athlete and a good student. He is quick to acknowledge he couldn’t have done it without those around him.

“Coach Godbee and Ledbetter are the closest things I have to a father figure and they pushed me, took me home after practice,” Parrish said. “I couldn’t be here without my teammates. The whole team has pushed me to be a better person, a better wrestler.”  

“It means a lot to me for a coach or a scout or a college to reach out, to give me an offer and take a chance on me. It means the world to me.”


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