Farris On Fire

Celebrating Vulcan star shooter at the end of basketball career

Sports Writer Trixie Croad

Photographer Zach Gorski

Farris Parker

“You're only this old for four years, you're only in college for four years. Put your all into it and see how good you can get, that’s what I tried to do” - Parker Farris

Earlier this month, the men’s and women’s basketball teams played their last home games of the season; both teams played against Dixie State University at the Civic Center. The women were victorious, defeating the Trailblazers 62 to 54. The men, unfortunately, were not able to topple the top ranked team and went down 98 to 65. That night marked the last time Vulcan fans would see shooting guard Parker Farris take the court and deliver the multitude of points he is known for producing. Farris has been a shining light for the basketball team for the past two seasons, and many teammates say his presence on the court will be sorely missed.

Farris’ success on the court began in McKinleyville, a small town in northern California. Farris says he remembers his dad buying him a basketball hoop that they put up in their street when he was “just four or five years old,” and the passion grew from there. Basketball wasn’t Farris’s only talent growing up - he played many different sports throughout his childhood and also became a skilled baseball player. Farris says he could have gone that route and played baseball in college, but basketball was always what he wanted to do. “I was probably better at baseball actually, but I liked basketball more,” Farris said.

During his first year of college, Farris attended nearby Humboldt State University, which made his family and community proud to see Farris play for their hometown school. However, after freshman year, Farris felt like he needed to get out of his hometown, so he transferred to Santa Rosa Junior College, who had just won the state championships the year before. Unfortunately, Farris broke his foot and wasn’t sure whether he would get to play his sophomore season, but he was determined to get back out on the court and was able to play during the second half of his sophomore year. When it came time to switch schools again, Farris wanted to venture further out of California, and chose UH Hilo over offers in Kentucky and Tennessee.

From the moment he arrived, Farris showed he could deliver for the Vulcans when he hit eight three-pointers in his 2015 debut game, setting the scene for what was to come. During that season, Farris averaged 16 points per game. This season, not only does he top the Vulcans in scoring with an average of 22 points per game, but is also the second highest scorer in the entire PacWest conference. Farris was also awarded “PacWest Player of the Week” after a career high of 36 points scored against BYU-Hawai‘i in Laie in January of this year.

Athletes often claim that hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard, but when hard work and talent come together, that’s when you get someone like Parker Farris. Farris says that shooting is something that he is always working to improve. “I’m always trying to get better. My freshman year I averaged 10 [shots per game], sophomore year 13, then 16, and now 22. I challenge myself to try and get better every year,” Farris said. The philosophy that hard work will pay off is something Farris lives by, and thinks is important for all athletes. “It’s about putting in the work and the effort and all the time that it takes. If you do that even in the off season, it’s worth it when season comes around because you’re so much better, and it feels good to see yourself get that much better and to see yourself grow,” Farris said.

It’s not just Farris that values hard work, his work ethic is an attribute many admire about him. Farris and teammate Darius Wilson-Johnson co-captained the men’s side this year, and as Farris described it, Wilson-Johnson is more likely to be the one giving instruction during a game, and Farris brings leadership in the form of being a role model.

“He’s a great contribution to the team, his work ethic sets the tone for the rest of the guys in the gym,” said G.E. Coleman, the basketball team’s head coach. Assistant coach Mark McLauchlin expressed a similar sentiment saying, “He was a great player last year and an even better one this year. He’s a great guy to coach.” In addition to being a hard worker and a talented shooter, Farris’s coaches and teammates describe him as a kind and humble individual that is always a pleasure to be around.

Farris’ hard work has paid off, not just at the hoop, but around the court. Farris has seen more court time on average this season than any other player in the PacWest, with an average of 36 minutes per game. “That is all credit to him, most of the time I don’t take him out, and he does really well to look after himself and be able to do that,” Coleman said. Farris says that this definitely tests his body. “I have to be in the training room a lot, because if I’m not and I don’t take care of it, I feel it,” Farris said. “But I can’t complain about playing the most minutes though, that’s fun.”

It’s not all about winning for Farris either - when asked what his favorite memory from his time at UH Hilo was, he talks about the game against Azusa Pacific in 2016, which the Vulcans lost, along with their chances of making regionals. Obviously it isn’t the feeling of losing that Farris remembers fondly, but it’s the hunger that led up to that moment. He says his team was so focused that week and throughout the game; they played with such intensity and passion - they just “didn’t get the win and that’s sports,” but for Farris it’s the hard work that goes in that is the reward in and of itself. Once his final college basketball season is officially over, Farris plans to graduate this spring with a bachelor's degree in finance. Yet with that same sense of adventure and passion for the game that brought him to UH Hilo, he hopes to be playing professional basketball overseas in the near future.

The advice he gives to the younger and prospective Vulcan athletes he is that “some people play their sport and then they take off three or four months and then they’ll restart and they're just the same player. You're only this old for four years, you're only in college for four years. Put your all into it and see how good you can get, that’s what I tried to do.”

Farris with his teamates