Dec. 2, 2011 By Kate Whitney
By Kate Whitney
FRESNO, Calif. - For most student athletes the first semester of college means the freedom from home and family, but for Madison Parrish it marks the beginning of her chapter in her family's Bulldog legacy.
Madison comes to Fresno State as a freshman on the women's basketball team and the younger sister of assistant coach and former Bulldog Amy Parrish.
Amy played at Fresno State from 2004-06 before she graduated and played overseas in Holland for one year. After a knee injury ended her playing career, she spent a year as an assistant coach at Cal State Bakersfield before returning to the `Dogs in 2008 under her former coach Adrian Wiggins.
During Parrish's playing career at Fresno State she averaged 15.1 points and 6.6 rebounds as a senior. That year she posted four double-doubles and scored in double figures a team-leading 24 times. She earned First Team All-WAC honors as a junior and senior. As a junior, Parrish tallied 13.5 points and 6.9 rebounds a contest.
During her time as a player she remembers vividly an 8 year-old Madison dressed in a cheerleading uniform cheering her on in the stands. However, now it is Madison's time to wear the number 11 jersey as she takes the court and Amy's chance to cheer.
"It's a proud moment that I get to be the person that cheers for her now," said Amy. She said it is nice to experience the other side of Bulldog basketball as a proud sister and she is sure that her sister is going to give her plenty of reasons to feel that way.
"She has really good basketball knowledge," Amy said.
She feels that Madison's ability to see the court is something she admires about her younger sister.
"Even coaching now my hardest thing is recognizing things as they happen," Amy said. "Madison sees things before they happen. She'll make passes in practice and we'll say how did she see that? How did she know that person was going to be there because they weren't there prior to us even seeing it."
Amy feels that her sister's knowledge of the game is something that the Bulldogs will benefit from as Madison grows as a Bulldog.
"Her ability to see plays before they happen and help other people will really help as she gets older," Amy said.
For now, it is Madison's maturity that Amy feels she contributes most to the team.
"She's mature enough to be quiet and understand that's it not her time to lead," Amy said. "She's also able to separate me as a coach from me her sister. She doesn't get offended easily and she understands that I'm harder on her than anyone else because she played for my dad for so long."
The latter is what Amy feels most helps their relationship and the team and despite their 10 year age gap the sisters are extremely close.
"We have lunch every Monday," Amy said. "Madison calls it Monday-lunch-day and we get a chance to talk and support each other. Ironically we don't talk about basketball much."
This support is what matters most to Madison.
"She's like my best friend," Madison said. "She's always been a role model to me." For Madison, playing at Fresno State means much more than playing basketball in college; it means following in her sister's footsteps.
"Following in her footsteps means a lot because I always looked up to her so I kind of wanted to follow what she did," Madison said.
She hopes to follow her sister even after stepping off the Save Mart Center court by playing overseas and eventually becoming a basketball coach.
"I want to be a basketball coach because I feel like I really understand the game," Madison said. "I like helping people out, like in practice if someone doesn't know something I like being able to give them tips to be better and my dad, sister and brother have all been coaches so I feel like it runs in the family."
Despite her family history with basketball, Madison's biggest motivator is her passion for the game.
"I've played basketball since the second grade so it's been my whole life," Madison said. "I feel like basketball is the only thing I know to do. All the time, everyday, all I think about is basketball and school."
Her hopes for basketball are high. So wants to become an All-Wac player, break Lindsay Logan's season assist record (192) which hasn't been broken since 2000, and break Jaleesa Ross's season 3 point-field goal record (103) set in 2010. Most of all, she wants to play her role on the team and gain the skills needed to become a mature adult with the help of her coaches.
When she thinks about her history with the Bulldogs it brings back fond memories. It's weird to think about sitting in the stands watching Amy," Madison said. She recalls being so excited and proud of her big sister.
"I remember thinking that I couldn't believe she was in college now and it's weird to think that I'm the one in college [wearing the same jersey she did]," Madison said. "Stepping on to the court for the first time is going to be a really cool feeling."
The best feeling Parrish gets is when she thinks about what it means to follow in her sister's footsteps.
"I think it's an amazing opportunity to come to Fresno State and follow in the footsteps of the person I look up to and be a Bulldog," Madison said. "One of the best tributes to my sister and my family is to be here and play as well as she did... and better [laughs]."
"We Are Your Team!" December Madness continues on Sunday, Dec. 4 against No. 5 Stanford at 2 p.m. The Cardinal is the first of two-straight ranked opponents headed to the Save Mart Center. The first 2,500 fans in the building will receive free pom poms and kids will get a chance to shoot layups after the game.
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