Parker Orlando - California Nomination by Morgan Orlando Photography by Ponnie Jackson & Stephen Hopson Issue 50 of Inspiring Teens Magazine
Nomination: I doubt history books will touch on the adverse effects the pandemic had on teens, but I witnessed firsthand my sister, Parker Orlando, take her struggles and turn them into her motivation. As a high school freshman, isolated sitting at home on zoom, Parker decided to homeschool and focus on tennis. She practiced five hours every weekday and played tournaments every weekend. Experiencing burnout, she decided to walk away from tennis, a very hard decision. Parker focused on her mental health and is now back in person at school, with a 4.0 GPA, and plays number one on the tennis team as a sophomore, a true role model in these times.
Photography by Ponnie Jackson
Tell us more about your tennis career and team. I began competitive tennis about a year ago and it took me a few months to realize that tennis was not and could not be my entire life. When I began my sophomore year I realized that joining the tennis team might make me love tennis again and it did. Being a part of a team is an amazing experience because your teammates become your friends who encourage you throughout the tennis season and school.
What is a favorite accomplishment from being involved in tennis? My favorite accomplishment from being involved in tennis is growing mentally. Tennis has taught me so many things, so many that I can't choose one to highlight. Playing this sport has made me mentally tough and that is a huge accomplishment.
What was your tennis photoshoot like with Ponnie Jackson & then Stephen Hopson? What did you love most about it? The photos that Ponnie Jackson and Stephen Hopson took of me were completely unexpected. I wasn't trying to impress anyone, pose a certain way or look like someone I'm not. I love that the pictures were candid, I was simply focused on my match.
Photography by Stephen Hopson
How do you cope with being a perfectionist when you know you need to move on? When I feel like I am not good enough or cannot get over a mistake; I just try to accept that I am human and that everyone makes mistakes. In the moment that is a difficult task to accomplish, but reminds me to take a deep breath and let things go.
Share with us your journey with your relationship with God. During the COVID lockdown my faith in the world and God deteriorated. I finally decided to quit homeschooling and competitive tennis after experiencing severe burnout. A while after this decision, I learned that my self worth didn't come from how many matches I won or lost, but by how I treated other people, how I worked hard, and by how I tried my personal best each and every day. If I didn't have a little faith in God in that time, I would not have overcome and learned from that experience.
Photography by Stephen Hopson
If you were to present a topic to a group of your peers, what would it be and why? If I were to present a topic to a group of my peers, it would be about how your self worth doesn't come from wins or losses in sports, letter grades in school, popularity, or money; rather it comes from the content of your heart. Once you focus on treating others with kindness and respect, and working hard to achieve your goals, you realize that impressing other people is the least impactful thing one can do for their self worth. If everyone focused more on their heart and intentions vs. materialistic things, then the world would be a better place. Look for Parker in issue 50 of Inspiring Teens Magazine!