The Daily Pennsylvanian asked Penn women's basketball senior Eleah Parker 15 questions about her sport, her time at Penn, and her life overall. Here's what the senior had to say.
1. Can you introduce yourself?
My name is Eleah Parker. I'm from Charlotte, N.C. I play center on the basketball team.
2. How did you spend your summer?
I went back home. I stayed in Philadelphia for a few weeks after the school shut down, and then I went back home. For the first part of the summer, I was trying to find internships, and then it got to a point where I was going to work or do something, so I got a remote job. Then the second half of the summer I enjoyed. Outside of that, keeping up with our workouts.
3. When did you start playing basketball?
I started playing basketball around the summer of fifth grade, which I know is pretty late. I know a lot of people start when they are five or six. I started when I was around 11. I started with my church league. I was in love with my church. I was on the choir, the step team, the dance team, and then we also had a basketball team. Of course, everyone was like, "you have to play, you have to play," and at that point in my life, I wanted nothing to do with it. I was a cheerleader, and I was not really into sports. Because I am so tall, everyone was like, "give it a try." So I gave it a try, and it was terrible. I was terrible the first couple of years. Later around sixth grade, I met a friend, and I got involved with her father's AAU team; it was my first real travel basketball team that I was a part of.
4. How has basketball shaped your Penn experience?
It's not that it has been my whole college experience, but it has been a large part of it. You spend so many hours a week with training and practice and more in a season with games and traveling. So it has been a big part of it. I spend a lot of time with my teammates, so I feel close, which has been a big part of it. They're like a family. We are like sisters, so that has shaped a big part of it. The things we got to do being a part of the basketball team. We have gotten to go out of the country a few times. The trips we can take are nice. That is one part that I really highlight and appreciate.
5. How has your team coped with the pandemic?
We have been trying to do as best as we can with what we have. It has been a learning curve, almost trying to find the safest way to train and workout and finding resources around here. But we have come up with some solutions. I think just keeping each other motivated by doing as much stuff as possible together. A few times a week, our strength coach will host workouts over Zoom. That is nice because it is almost like our workouts when we would be together. A lot of our girls own a house, so they can workout together. We are all seeing each other and motivating each other, and that helps.
6. One thing you miss about not playing basketball right now?
The competitiveness of practice. When we scrimmage with each other or scrimmage with our practice players, we get so hype. Especially against the practice players, it would be so hype. Even when we scrimmage each other, it's always so competitive, and I miss that aspect of it. Even though we are doing our workouts and can do that virtually together, sometimes you miss that competitive edge.
7. Favorite Penn basketball memory?
There are so many. I am thinking back to when we won the regular season championship. I would say one when I was so happy and together with my team was when we took our trip to Hawaii, and it was New Year's Eve, and we were all together celebrating. I thought that was definitely a highlight to end the year and start the year, and then, of course, everything happened. That was definitely a high point. That trip to Hawaii, we had such a great time there, and then that night, specifically on New Year's Eve, we had so much fun and just being with each other and it just being New Year's.
8. Do you have any pre-game rituals?
This is funny. My teammates will laugh. They know that always before every game, after we have our pre-game meal when we are home, I have to take a nap on the long couch in our locker room. I have to. It is just charging myself up almost, so I will do that before every game. Even when we are away in the hotel, we will usually have our meal and then go back up to the room and take a nap, so I think that is a grounding piece before a game. Then I will wake up, of course, and then I will go into the locker room, and my teammates are playing music, and I get energized because of the music. So we will all dance and sing, and we'll have a lot of energy and have a lot of fun before we get out to the court.
9. Do you have a favorite class you have taken at Penn?
One of the cooler classes I have taken in my major was Visual Neuroscience. I took it over the summer, this past summer. Although it was virtual, I think that class had some topics that interested me. That was one of my favorite classes in my major. I took an Italian Cinema class about Italian history and cinema. The professor was really great, and it was just a really cool class. Our homework was usually to watch movies and to read. It wasn't too bad, like hard, so it was a cool class, and there were great discussions. I would say that is probably my coolest, and the one prior is my favorite.
10. Do you have a favorite professional player?
Anytime I have been asked this question, I had always said LeBron, especially when I was younger. He could do everything and play all positions, and he is just a beast, and I think that holds true now.
11. What are you majoring in and do you have any plans for after graduation?
I am majoring in Cognitive Science with a Neuroscience concentration. As far as after college, I don't have any concrete plans yet. I am considering a few options, and a big part of it will be based on what our season looks like this year, and everything is up in the air. So it is a lot to take into account. So I don't have a concrete plan or something that is already set in stone that I'll do after graduation, but I am working with a mentor and using this mentorship to figure out what it is exactly I want to do and the things I need to be doing now to get there. I just started that, and I am excited to narrow things down and figure everything out.
12. If you could go back in time, what is one piece of advice you would give to freshman year you?
Especially in light of the pandemic and everything, I would say do more, go out more, be more social. Freshman year, the seniors did a really good job making sure everyone was included in everything, and we hung out and did things together as a team, so that was very encouraging then. Outside of that, I would tell myself to do more because I had a couple of close friends, and we would always hang out, and that was fun. Now that the pandemic is here and you are restricted, and wish I could do everything like going to restaurants and you can in some places but doing it freely. I would tell my freshman self to enjoy college. Basketball was such a big part of my college career and obviously school, but outside of that, I would say enjoy more of college, go out more, go to the city more.
13. Do you have any good binges right now?
I am looking for stuff because, at this point, I am rewatching things that I have already watched. So currently, I am going through The Vampire Diaries for the third time. I finished How to Get Away with Murder not too long ago for the second time. I am also rewatching The OA for the second time. I think it's time for me to find something else to watch. I am re-doing everything I have already seen a couple of times.
14. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
I want to go to Thailand. I see all the pictures of people swimming in this beautiful water between mountains. When I see those pictures, I want to go to Asia in general, but if I had to choose a specific destination, it would be Thailand.
15. Lakers or Heat for the NBA title?
I think it will be the Lakers.