Robert E. Lee is the top- ranked team and in the regional finals for the first time since 2009, but one of its most important players hasn’t even touched the court.
Dionne Parks’ basketball season ended before it started when he suffered a torn right ACL midway through the football season.
The senior transferred from G.W. Carver in the summer in hopes of being a part of the Generals’ basketball team. And even though he’s been limited to the sidelines, he was determined to make an impact.
“It’s been fun to watch, but I wish I was a part of it,” Parks said. “When we get in the game, I just cheer them on. Sometimes I dance for them or I just clap and cheer. And I’ll do that throughout the whole game. I get the whole bench into it, too.”
Lee coach Bryant Johnson said Parks’ enthusiasm has been contagious. The Generals will need him more than ever when they play Central-Phenix City in the Class 7A Regional finals at 6 p.m. today at the Acadome.
“I think he means a lot because a lot of times it’s tough for guys that don’t play a lot to cheer. And I think the guys seeing him cheering and not being able to play this year, I think it encouraged them to be a part of the team as well,” Johnson said. “When you think times are rough for you because you’re not playing, then you see this guy who’s injured and cheering harder than anyone and he’s a senior, it has a positive effect on our bench and has helped our team overall this year.”
Lee’s Jeremiah Johnson, Park’s closest friend on the team, said Parks’ activity on the bench has paid off in a big way.
“He really wanted to be somebody on this team. He is an important person on this team, because without him on the bench, we probably would’ve lost some of those games,” Jeremiah Johnson said. “He’s the main person cheering us on in the games. He knows he’s not able to play, but he gives it his all on the bench.”
Jeremiah Johnson said Parks has also emerged as another coach for the Generals.
“He’s like another coach. I missed a layup, he was like, ‘Bro, how did you miss that layup?’ He’ll get you,” Johnson said. “He got on me a couple times. ‘Bro, you’re wide open, what are you doing?’ “