Sanostee's Derek Parrish will play wheelchair basketball at Southwest Minnesota State

Matt Hollinshead,
Sanostee resident Derek Parrish signs his National Letter of Intent on Wednesday, July 15, 2020, in north Farmington to play collegiate wheelchair basketball at Southwest Minnesota Minnesota State University.

FARMINGTON — Derek Parrish didn’t let a severe injury suffered during a violent road rage incident stop him from picking up a basketball and continuing to play.

Despite being confined to a wheelchair for nearly six years now, the 30-year-old Sanostee resident kept at it by playing wheelchair basketball for close to five of those years. And now he’s bound for Southwest Minnesota State University.

“The opportunity’s really great,” said Parrish, who signed with the Mustangs on Wednesday via athletic scholarship. “Basketball’s always been a part of my life. I enjoyed the sport as an able-body athlete as well. Just being able to find the sport available to me in this situation, it’s been a big help.”

Parrish exited his vehicle after getting in a motor vehicle accident in Sanostee back in Oct. 2014, and he said the other driver involved, still upset, ran him over with a vehicle.

“A fight gone wrong, basically,” Parrish said.

That didn’t stop Parrish from pursuing his dreams, though.

SMSU is an NCAA Division II program located in Marshall, Minnesota, but plays against NCAA Division I schools such as University of Illinois and University of Alabama.

SMSU is among 12 NCAA teams across the country that has competitive wheelchair basketball.

“It’s evolving, it’s growing, and it’s being more recognized out there social media-wise. Internationally, they play at that level,” said Parrish, who currently trains at San Juan College.

Due to the cold, harsh winter months Minnesota endures, the campus buildings are all connected by underground indoor tunnels.

Parrish won’t have to worry about any icy spots on his way to the gymnasium.

“(It’s) one less worry off my shoulder,” Parrish said.

Matt Hollinshead covers sports for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577 and on Twitter at @MattH_717.

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