by Theresa Ross
With only a few minutes left in his high school career, senior Austin Paritee didn’t want the memorable moments under the Friday night lights to end. The clock hitting zero marked a bittersweet end and exciting beginning.
After playing with teams like the Birmingham Patriots, Berkshire Wildcats, and Seaholm Maples, senior Austin Paritee will be taking his football talents to the Grand Valley Lakers.
A football player since fifth grade, Paritee committed to Grand Valley State University on February 4th.
“I feel pretty good about it,” Paritee said. “I love the coaching staff, and the campus is really nice.”
As a receiver at Seaholm, Paritee was named team MVP, most skilled offensive player, and most valuable offensive player. His junior year Paritee had 40 catches for 525 yards and five touchdowns. This past year, Paritee had 70 catches for 700 yards and 10 touchdowns.
According to Seaholm head coach Jim DeWald, he expects Paritee to stand out at Grand Valley.
“I expect Austin to have a great career at Grand Valley as both a player and a student,” DeWald said.
As a top Division 2 team, Grand Valley’s success matches Paritee’s goals.
“They run a pretty efficient offense,” Paritee said. “It really does fit to a player like me and it does give me a lot of exposure.”
Playing in college, Paritee said, has always been a goal of his and his teammates say they support of his commitment.
“I’m really happy for him,” senior quarterback Tommy Sheppard said. “He deserves and has what it takes to play somewhere at the next level.”
After a home game visit and an official weekend visit, Paritee is looking forward to continuing his football career.
“I am looking forward to the college lifestyle and traveling every weekend during the season,” Paritee said.
Though Paritee’s recruitment process started later than most before his junior year, his decision came down to Grand Valley, Ohio, Buffalo, or Central Michigan.
“Grand Valley talked about all the stuff they can do for me, the player they can help me become, and also the education I can get from there,” Paritee said.
According to DeWald, Paritee was very high on Grand Valley’s recruiting board.
“I wanna use it to see how far it can get me, use it to get an education, and possibly to make a career out of it,” Paritee said.
Past Grand Valley, Paritee sees football in his future, possibly playing in the NFL or taking the steps to become a coach.
“If I do get the chance to go pro or at least try it, I’ll definitely take it,” Paritee said.
Becoming a graduate assistant is one of the first steps to becoming a coach. According to Paritee, this is another long term goal of his.
“I think he can go as far as he’s willing to work,” Sheppard said. “I can definitely see him having success at Grand Valley State, and he can develop NFL potential while playing football there.”
Paritee can often be found practicing as he plays year-round, only taking time off for the Seaholm basketball season.
“He’s been dedicated to bettering himself and the teams he’s played on at Seaholm,” senior teammate Emmett Green said.
Paritee’s role on the Seaholm team is one he will miss.
“I’ll miss the atmosphere of the home games and the thought of Friday night lights,” Paritee said.
According to Paritee, memories of playing Groves and beating Southfield in the first round of playoffs last year have made Seaholm special.
“Austin influenced his teammates with his personality and his play making ability,” DeWald said. “I think players believe that at any given moment Austin could have a highlight type play.”
Paritee’s commitment and determination are also displayed through his reaction a shoulder injury in his senior season.
“It did hurt me a lot because I sprained my AC which is a joint in my shoulder that allows for movement,” Paritee said. “Now I’m still recovering because I lost so much muscle.”
The two weeks he was out proved to be crucial games for Seaholm which ended in losses without Paritee.
The respect Paritee’s teammates have for him correlates directly to the respect his coach has for him.
“Austin is an extremely athletic football player that has great ball skills,” DeWald said. “Austin’s ability to catch the ball really stood out when colleges watched Austin on tape.”
Paritee has served as a crucial member of Seaholm’s varsity team for years and will continue to do so at Grand Valley, according to DeWald.
“Austin is the best natural athlete I’ve ever seen, and has the talent to go along with his athleticism,” Green said.