Nathan Parker locates the ball and makes the out during a baseball game early this season. Parker, a recent Needles High School graduate, committed to Cerro Coso Community College to play baseball as a catcher and utility player.

NEEDLES — Nathan Parker is headed to Cerro Coso Community College to play 

college-level baseball this upcoming school year. 

However, Parker said that at one point he wasn’t sure if it was still going to be possible because of how the coronavirus affected school everywhere.

“There was a little confusion with everything but what I’ve been doing to make sure that I get into the program is lifting as often as possible, running as often as possible and trying to prepare myself for the next level,” said Parker.

The coaches at Cerro Coso Community College got in contact with Parker at the beginning of their baseball season.

“They contacted me and we talked over the phone and I went on a visit to their campus and watched one of their baseball games,” said Parker, referring to a trip early in the season, before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down not only athletics but classes at nearly every school in the area. “I saw their campus and I got to see how their program and I liked how their program was built and I wanted to become a part of that.”

Cerro Coso, in Ridgecrest, California, wasn’t the only college that Parker looked at; he said that he wanted to get a wide variety before he made his choice but the baseball program at Cerro Coso was eventually what made him choose that school.

“I saw that Coso had a lot better coaching and the coaches were more focused on their players and how they can help them,” said Parker. “The energy around the ballpark was very high and I loved that kind of setting.”

One of the reasons why Parker said he thinks that the coaches offered him a chance to play at Cerro Coso was because when they saw his videos they thought he was a very good athlete. Parker signed for the position of catcher and utility player.

“After I went down to visit they came to the Kingman tournament on a little bit of a recruitment mission and he got to see me play,” said Parker. “Also I feel another reason they liked me was that I’m a left-handed batter whose also a right-handed catcher and they could give me work in different spots in the lineup.”

Parker said that knowing that he’s going to be playing at the college level is nerve-wracking but also exciting.

“I get the chance to play in a new system and hopefully I do it right and get to start and I’m very excited for it,” said Parker. “I think that the biggest learning curve is going to be getting used to the new intensity of the game and work harder so when my chance comes I’ll be ready.”

“As a high school player going to college, you’re going against everybody’s best player and that’s who’s on your team now,” said Ken Parker Needles High School Mustangs baseball head coach and Nathan’s father. “You’re going to compete against everybody’s best high school player and if you’re not ready to compete, you’re going to be eaten alive. 

“You have to go with a mentality of,  ‘Yea, he’s my teammate but I’m fighting for my job.’ The hard work and hustle and the mental aspect that you’re not going to be ok with failure, that’s going to set aside a guy at the next level.”

The season at the college level is longer than at high school — with far more games — so conditioning is important to any player. Nathan Parker said he knows that it’s important to stay in top shape.

“I have to stay in the gym for most of every week just because I don’t want to lose muscle mass from the running,” said Parker. “I’m going to hustle every day at practice, make sure I take care of my arm like icing it every single day, go see the trainers if I feel like I’m not feeling the best or if something is wrong. I just have to be cautious, especially if I earn myself a starting spot.”

Parker said he is looking forward to the energy and excitement of getting to play at the college level.

“I’ve always wanted to play college sports and one of my dreams is getting to play on the field at the college level,” said Parker. “I’m excited to be a part of the program and to hustle every day.”

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