HUNTSVILLE, Ala.- Most student-athletes dream of making it to the next level in their sport, whether it’s the college level or professional, to strive for progress is the ultimate goal.
Brett Parker, the newest Alabama A & M baseball pitcher may look like a beast on the mound, but the 6’5, 235 lb right-handed pitcher didn’t have the easiest of starts.
At just a month old Brett was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis and was in the hospital for a month. For his parents, Nicole and Nathan, they were told things no parents want to hear, “They told us that he probably wouldn’t be able to walk normally much less run or play any physical sports,” Nicole told News 19.
Doctors predicted that his coordination would be severely impacted because of continued seizures and brain swelling. His mother said the road wasn’t easy, “There were days where Brett wanted to give up, where we wanted to give up.”
After countless hours of occupational therapy, at the age of four, Brett picked up a baseball and fell in love.
Sports quickly took over the need for occupational therapy. He played everything from football to basketball to baseball. By nine, he started pitching and never stopped.
“He’s always been a hard worker, quiet, very humble, doesn’t say a whole lot, but always working hard. He gets there early, he’s usually the last one to leave and puts in the effort. It’s not been easy for him, he had a lot of things to overcome early,” Nicole said.
His perseverance on the mound resulted in many accomplishments for the young ball player.
As a freshman for the Elkmont Red Devils, he appeared in the team’s first appearance in the AHSAA Elite Eight as the number two pitcher. A 100 strikeout season his junior year, which was the same year he was recognized by Limestone County as Co-Pitcher of the year.
By his senior year, he was getting not only notice but also gaining interest from many schools. As luck would have it, the COVID-19 pandemic stopped all sports and put his baseball dreams at a stand still.
With extended eligibility for current college players, chances of Brett playing were slim.
He wasn’t going to let that stop him. He continued training and getting better at his craft and in November 2020 he found Coach Louis Whitlow, Owner and Coach at the Compound in Madison. Brett went in with a goal and Coach Lou was going to make it happen.
“I know from day one when you came in you got a goal in mind, you wanted to play college ball and I said we would do everything we could to get you there,” Coach Lou knew he was looking at a star, “But you’re still going to need to continue to work hard, the work doesn’t stop here.”
An AAMU Alumni, Coach Lou reach out to his contacts to let them know of the talent he had on his hands, “If it wasn’t for Coach Lou believing in him, aside from his immediate family, this would have been tougher,” Nicole said.
“To see Brett go to A&M definitely means a lot to me. More so it means a lot for me because he’s progressing his career to the next level, he’s progressing himself as a young man,” Coach Lou said.
In an intimate gathering at The Compound, just how Brett would prefer, in front of his family and those at the compound, he signed with AAMU as a pitcher.
At a loss for words and still, in disbelief Brett said to Coach Lou, “Thank you for working with me, getting me to where I knew I could be, I knew it was a long road a long journey,” then he jokingly looked at his parents and said, “Thank you for putting up with me half the time, I just, can’t believe it.”
“Not many people knew what it was like behind the scenes to get here,” Nicole said, “Now he’s getting rewarded for it.”
The Parkers and everyone who has followed Brett’s journey is excited to see him back on the mound this baseball season, “I can’t wait to have my family there with me, I’m glad I’m close to home,” as he hugged his grandma and sister, “I know my grandma’s excited I’m here.”
Brett said Coach Lou taught him to trust himself and believe in his capability, to be confident in what he can do and he hopes his story will inspire others, “Just never give up, no matter the road or how hard, believe in yourself, be patient and trust the process.”