DENVER – A family whose Mustangs roots date back to the inception of East Lincoln High School is establishing a scholarship for athletes in honor of Addison Parrish, a standout on the baseball diamond who died in June 2018 at the age of 23.
Parrish was the oldest grandchild of Steve Cherry, the first basketball coach at East Lincoln. Standing 6-foot-5, Parrish played basketball at East Lincoln, but baseball was always his best sport.
The Mustangs’ first baseman/closing pitcher earned all-state honors as a junior in 2012 after leading East Lincoln to a perfect 13-0 Southern Piedmont 1A/2A conference record and the third round of the state playoffs. Parrish clobbered 14 home runs in his three seasons as a varsity letterman, including being the first to hit the new scoreboard built beyond the outfield fence, despite battling injuries that put a damper on his senior season.
“He had such good eyesight,” Parrish’s grandmother, Gailya Cherry, said. “He sat right in this chair the night before he died and told me about how good his eyesight was. He said, ‘When the ball comes out of somebody’s hand, mawmaw, I can tell you exactly what they’re throwing because I can see how their hand grips the seams on the baseball.’”
After graduating from East Lincoln in 2013, Parrish attended Western Carolina University, where he joined the Catamounts baseball team. Injuries got in the way again as his collegiate baseball career was derailed before it truly began.
Parrish worked at Trillium Resort in Cashiers throughout college and afterward, where he enjoyed sharing his knowledge of sports trivia with the guests. Parrish also developed an interest in the culinary field while working at Trillium, a newfound passion he was just beginning to explore prior to his death.
Parrish was found dead around 6 a.m. June 26, 2018, in the bathroom of his grandparents’ home in Denver. His heart had stopped, and while paramedics eventually got it pumping again, he had been deprived of oxygen too long.
“We were so shocked,” Parrish’s mother, Lana, said. “He wasn’t sick, so it was very unexpected. It was just explained to us as a little electrical glitch in his heart.”
The family recently received a 500-page autopsy that concluded Parrish died of unknown causes. His heart was later donated to a transplant patient in Charlotte.
In honor of Parrish, his family has established the Addison Kent Parrish Gamer Scholarship, which will be presented annually to an East Lincoln athlete at the end-of-year senior awards ceremony.
“A gamer is the dirtiest one on the field,” Lana Parrish said. “A gamer is the first one on the field and the last one to leave. A gamer might not be the one with the best statistical averages, but it’s someone who’s going to pull through and make a play when it’s needed.”
To raise funds in support of the scholarship, the family has organized the inaugural AKP Gamer Challenge, which includes a hit, throw, run competition during the afternoon followed by an alumni game that evening. Prizes including Mooresville Spinners season tickets, a cruise and a Yeti cooler will be raffled off during the alumni game.
The AKP Gamer Challenge will run from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 13, at East Lincoln High School, with the alumni game scheduled for 7 p.m. The cost to participate in the hit, throw, run competition is $10 per event, with each recipient receiving a free T-shirt. The alumni game is free to attend, but donations will be accepted at the gate.
All proceeds raised through the event will be used to fund the Addison Kent Parrish Gamer Scholarship. Those who can’t make it can still donate at https://addison-kent-parrish-gamer-scholarship.square.site.
“We just want to say thank you to the community because they’ve been so good to us,” Lana Parrish said. “I always say time is the most precious commodity, so to have so many people taking their time to help us with this event, we’re truly humbled as a family.”