The definition of the word swagger according to the Google dictionary is “to walk or behave in a very confident and typically arrogant or aggressive way.” As I sat in the coffee shop waiting for the young man I interviewed for this post, he walked in with absolutely no swagger at all according to that definition. He gave me a quick hug that meant a respectful hello and sat down humbly across the table ready for the questions I was about to “pitch” to him.
Parker Dunshee has been probably one of the best athletes to graduate from Zionsville Community Schools and was a very bright, hardworking, disciplined student. He went on to attend Wake Forest University where he also played baseball. He graduated from Wake Forest last year and was drafted in the seventh round by the Oakland Athletics as a pitcher. It is almost every child’s dream who plays a sport to grow up and play at a professional level. Parker is making that dream come true due to a strong work ethic and a “don’t quit” attitude. However, that is not what stands out most to me about Parker. That is only part of the reason I interviewed him.
Along with his solid growth mindset, it’s his simple kindness that intrigues me. The past winter Parker worked out at PRO X, an indoor sports performance facility located In Westfield, Indiana, during off season. It was brought to my attention that this MLB draft pick, who you would expect to walk in that gym with a swagger, is the most humble, kind, down-to-earth, helpful guy. In that gym, the other baseball hopefuls are noticing, not his swagger, but his kindness. Parker sees all people as equals in his day to day life. However, do not think this kind, gentle spirit steps onto the pitcher’s mound without a metamorphosis. He changes personalities like a werewolf who comes out at night. With a poker face that shows little emotion, a fierce competitor emerges and relentlessly battles his opponent to the end - the end of a game, that is. I asked Parker how he could be so kind off the field and so commanding on the field. He answered, “I just had to learn when to turn it on and turn it off.” That is a competitor with great sportsmanship.
I was curious about how Parker developed his appreciative, humble manner. He simply said, “It has always been the example set for me. I was expected to be kind.” Is he perfect? No. He smiled as he recalls being sent to his room when he was young to “think about his behavior.”
Parker chooses to be on “team kind.” Off the pitching mound, he chooses to leave the swagger behind. Parker, wherever your baseball career takes you, know that your kindness matters. Your simple acts are making a difference in people's lives. The example that was set for you, you are now passing on.
This is a young man worth following. You can follow his baseball career at https://www.baseball-reference.com/register/player.fcgi?id=dunshe000par
You can follow his example by simply choosing KIND.