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April 7, 2014

Latta's Shelbey Parnacher earns another All-State honor

Latta —    Shelbey Parnacher has been selected by the Oklahoma Girls Basketball Coaches Association to Oklahoma All-State teams in basketball and fastpitch softball, becoming the first Latta Panther named All-State in those two sports.

   It is a fitting culmination of Parnacher's exemplary athletic leadership and performance for Panther teams since she was a freshman. She graduates this year and will enroll in college in the fall semester.

   The 18-year-old daughter of Shannon and Craig Parnacher will play for the Small 2A East All-State team May 31 against the Small 2A West All-State Team in basketball. Tipoff will be at 1 p.m. at Westmoore High School in Moore.

   The very next weekend, Parnacher will take third base during All-State fastpitch softball action at the University of Oklahoma. She has been third baseman and leadoff batter for the Lady Panthers for years and competed in state fastpitch tournament action as a freshman.

   Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby congratulated Shelbey, her parents and her grandmother on the honors during a special visit April 3 at Chickasaw Nation Headquarters.

   “We are extremely proud of Shelbey’s accomplishments,” Anoatubby said. “Earning honors on two All-State teams takes hard work and dedication as well as talent. We believe her strong work ethic and commitment will serve her well as she pursues her education and athletic goals at the next level."

   Shelbey said meeting the governor was a special experience.

   “It was such an honor to meet with Gov. Anoatubby and to have my family with me,” Shelbey said. “It was amazing.”

   It may be a special relationship between her late grandfather and Shelbey that encouraged her to great feats on the court and the diamond.

WATCHING FROM ABOVE

   Chickasaw elder Lloyd Parnacher loved his grandchildren. He was particularly fond of watching Shelbey’s athletic prowess. As a freshman, she started at point guard for the Panther basketball team, the first underclassman to make the cut.

   Her grandfather knew talent when he saw it and told his granddaughter a berth in the state tournament was in Latta’s future. Parnacher was there for nearly every game, cheering on Shelbey and the Lady Panthers.

   Just as the team was maturing and becoming seasoned enough to compete for a state title, he succumbed to illness in July 2013 at age 89.

   Shelbey and her mother are emotional about the family’s loss just when Latta was poised for greatness.

   “He kept encouraging Shelbey. He would say, ‘This is the year,’” Mrs. Parnacher said.

   In fact, Shelbey’s grandfather was correct. This was the year, and the Lady Panthers would make it all the way to the state tournament before suffering a 3-point overtime loss to Preston that ended the season. Preston went on to claim the 2A state championship trophy.

   “He was watching this year. I know it,” Shelbey said of her grandfather. “He may not have been ‘here,’ but he watched every game.”

LOOKING AHEAD TO HELP OTHERS

   Shelbey has decided to enroll at a two-year college, with plans to transfer to a Division I university later.

   Two Kansas schools and an Arkansas school have dispatched recruiters to watch her play. However, no scholarship offer has been extended because the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association prohibits contact with athletes at this point. That changes when she graduates May 20.

    Shelbey is traveling to Connor State College in Warner soon to try out for the basketball squad.

    “I want to stay close to home for now,” Shelbey said.

   Her mother cites Shelbey’s close-knit family relationships as the reason why Shelbey is probably not prepared to be in Kansas while her parents; grandparents, Stanley and Mary Jane Smith; and her little sister and little brother remain in southern Oklahoma.

   “I know she’s my daughter, but she has the sweetest heart. She acts almost like a mother to her little brother (Kele, 16) and little sister (Kelbey, 7) and is constantly watching out for everyone,” Mrs. Parnacher said.

   Aside from stellar athletic abilities, Shelbey will be taking a 3.6 GPA with her to college. She hopes to be an athletic trainer, which essentially is a medically trained first responder to athletes who suffer injuries. She has her sights set on a career at a high school initially and then at the college level once she has earned her degree.

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