DAYTON — Jaya Parker is a senior at Stivers. She is set to become the first volleyball player from Dayton Public Schools to play at a Division I college in four decades.
“Surreal if we’re being honest,” Parker said. “I’ve put a lot of hard work into playing. Seeing it’s changing the culture of this district is huge for me.”
The senior also has only been playing volleyball since the eighth grade. She made the switch in sports realizing she wanted to try something different.
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“I played basketball when I was younger but I just couldn’t grasp it like my friends and siblings, like they’re really good at it, I’m not,” Parker said.
Parker said in her family it’s not unusual to set your sights on playing Division I college sports. She’s had her mind made up that she would be playing in college which initially surprised many because there hasn’t been someone from DPS in decades. So for her, she said she’s use to seeing people excel in athletics especially in her family. Parker said it’s not easy and has taken a commitment from her family. She said they travel about an hour away for her to train and play club volleyball.
In her time playing and growing in the sport she said she’s seen a transformation in Stivers and Dayton Public Schools volleyball matches.
“They’re actually happy to play us and they’re competing this year,” Parker said. “Our games like, they’re just so big now and that is a blessing for us and my team of course because they are insane as well.”
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Parker may be very talented on the volleyball court and putting up big numbers but she’s also a very articulate intelligent person off the floor. Parker may be the perfect person to set a standard and blaze a trail for other volleyball hopefuls at DPS. She has an energy, attitude, and smile that’s infectious for others around her as well. Parker knows she’s just scratching the surface of her potential and has her sights set high for both herself and those younger than her.
“Next step for me is of course playing at the higher elite level but also having girls that look like me play at a higher elite level and they have what it takes, they just need training and stuff like that,” Parker said. “I feel like me going and showing them the way I think that’s a great start.”
Dayton Public Schools has had several women excel in volleyball at the collegiate level, many before Title IX legislation was passed in 1972. According to Dayton Public Schools here’s a brief summary of the ladies that opened the door for young athletes like Jaya.
DORIS BLACK (ROOSEVELT 1965) - starred in Basketball, Volleyball and Track at Central State University. She served as Head Girls Basketball Coach at Colonel White and captured three City League and one District Championship Title(s). Took over the boys’ program in 1978 (making her one of the first female coaches to coach an all-boys team in the country). She coached the boys’ team for two seasons and won a share of the school’s first ever City League Championship Title in 1978. Coach Black was also inducted into the Central State Hall of Fame in 1987.
TONYA DAWSON (PATTERSON 1968) - first black female volleyball player to play at Ohio State University.
GAYLE BLEVINS (WILBUR WRIGHT 1970) - lettered in Volleyball, Softball, Basketball and Tennis while at the University of Dayton. Served as Head Softball Coach at Indiana University from 1980 to 1987 and led the Hoosiers to three Big Ten Conference Softball Titles and was named NCAA Division I Coach of the Year by the National Softball Coaches Association (NSCA) after her team finished third in the Women’s College World Series. She also was the Head Softball Coach at the University of Iowa from 1988 to 2010 and led the Hawkeyes to 16 NCAA Tournaments, four Women’s College World Series appearances, five Big Ten Regular Season Championships, and two Big Ten Tournament Titles. At the time of her retirement, she was the second-winningest Softball Coach in NCAA Division I history (compiling a record of 1,245 wins, 588 losses and 5 ties for her 31 year career). She was inducted into the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1999, Indiana University Athletic Hall of Fame in 2005 and University of Iowa Athletic Hall of Fame in 2016.
CINDY SCHAFFER (KISER 1976) - Earned High School All-American Honors and was selected Athlete of the Year by Women Sports Magazine in her senior year at Kiser. Lettered in Basketball, Volleyball and Softball at the University of Dayton.
Stivers lost to Valley View in the OHSAA tournament on Saturday October 23rd so now Parker will turn her attention to her volleyball career at Northern Kentucky.
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