Our Outstanding Student Athletes
Read more about our outstanding student athletes as highlighted by Sports Extra from The Winston-Salem Journal.
Rennie Parker - Basketball
Rennie Parker had a big adjustment to make at Salem Academy this year. Her basketball coach, Jason Kremidas, started to split her time on the court between her natural position, shooting guard, and point guard, knowing that the Sabers’ point guard is a senior and Parker will have to handle those duties next season.
Of course, that was nothing like the adjustment she made 18 months ago. A 15-year-old sophomore, Parker made the 360-mile drive from her home in the village of Hatteras on North Carolina’s Outer Banks to enroll as a boarding student at Salem.
Mira Fitch - Fencing
"When I visited Salem Academy and saw they had a fencing team, my dad and I both said, ‘Well, it’s worth a shot,’” Fitch said.
“For a while, learning all the basics, it was kind of ‘meh,’” she said.
“Then, when I went to my first match, I lost, but the feeling was there. It was electrifying. I loved it.
“Once I won, it was just exhilarating. It was an amazing feeling. I knew this was going to be my sport.”
Helen Watson - Cross Country
“I have always enjoyed running, especially with my family,” she said. “My dad is a big runner; he runs a couple of miles every day. My parents tried to get me into it, and I can run around my neighborhood. We ran some (5K) road races, and I enjoyed that.
“So I started running cross-country this year. It was a little tough in the preseason because I hadn’t done a lot of running this summer. It gradually got easier, and I really enjoyed getting out and having a stress reliever to end my day.
“I love running outside, but I wasn’t at all familiar with the sport, running on a team. Competition was new to me, but I got used to it very quickly. My teammates helped me and gave me a lot of advice.”
Isabella Smith - Tennis
“I have played tennis my whole life, but I didn’t play seriously until I came here when I started to play competitively,” Smith said. “I didn’t give it any attention until my junior year.”
“Over the summer, I played with my dad about every day, and I improved,” she said. “I wanted to be on the varsity.”
Smith, a 17-year-old senior, enrolled at Salem Academy as a boarding student midway through her sophomore year. She had played on the golf team at Pittsboro’s Northwood High School as a freshman; the team qualified for the state championship tournament. But her family moved to Washington, N.C., and Smith headed west, looking for a more challenging education.
Izzy Pare - Volleyball
Pare, a 17-year-old senior, is in her fourth year attending Salem Academy. A native of WaKeeney, a town of 1,876 in the high plains of north-central Kansas, she was looking for a better secondary education when she found Salem.
“They loved me, and I loved them, right away,” she said, initiating the series of events that found her thousands of feet in the air, admiring North Carolina’s trees and grass.
Pare started playing volleyball in school in the third grade. It was a natural progression to join the Sabers’ volleyball team when she arrived in Winston-Salem.
Mackenzie Culp - Field Hockey
Mackenzie Culp is hardly a follower. A 17-year-old senior at Salem Academy, she’s co-president of the schools’ Black Student Union, is on the Fellowship Council and, underneath that tiger suit, is the school’s mascot.
But one time she admits being a follower has worked out pretty good, too. In the seventh grade, attending Summit School, she was trying to figure out what sports to play to meet the school’s athletic requirement.
Six years later, Culp is still playing field hockey, manning a defensive role for the Sabers, either on the left side or in the middle of the defense.
Culp, in her third year playing at Salem Academy, loves the peculiar - to some — stick used in field hockey.
“I love being very technical with my stick and doing all the tricks you can do with it: lift the ball, sweep it, chip it,” she said.
“I love to air dribble — to scoop the ball off the ground and dribble it on my stick — you can’t do that in other sports.