When she was in middle school, Summer Parker-Hall was quickly drawn to Loyola Academy.
Her travel basketball team would often spectate the Ramblers’ games, and Parker-Hall admired the way Loyola coach Jeremy Schoenecker interacted with the team.
As a result, Loyola was the only school to which Parker-Hall applied.
Looking back, and considering both Loyola’s athletics and academics, Parker-Hall knows she made the right decision by becoming a Rambler.
“When you say you’re from Loyola Academy, that holds weight,” Parker-Hall said. “Not to put down any other school, that’s just why I feel like it’s different.”
Parker-Hall would be the first to tell you that without her experience at Loyola, she wouldn’t have achieved her dreams to play collegiately. The senior recently committed to Cornell University to continue her basketball career.
Reaching the Ivy League was always the goal for Parker-Hall, and she was in contact with almost every team in the league at one point. She connected the most with the Big Red, citing the program’s family feel.
“They work really hard, they’re all close with each other, and that’s exactly what I wanted,” Parker-Hall said of Cornell. “And they’re successful on the court too, you can see that it’s a team on the court and that’s something that I was definitely looking forward to.”
Cornell is getting a low-post presence who can stretch the floor in Parker-Hall.
The 6-foot senior may not be the tallest player on the court in Division I, but Schoenecker believes Parker-Hall’s jumpshot can help provide spacing for the Big Red.
“She does have some great post moves, she can operate down lower depending on what the matchups will entail in the Ivy League for her,” Schoenecker said. “Definitely her stretching the floor, I think that will be one of her biggest strengths as she moves forward.”
As a junior, Parker-Hall was honorable mention All-State by the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association and helped lead the Ramblers to a Class 4A sectional semifinal appearance.
She completed her junior season before the coronavirus pandemic shut down high school sports in March.
Parker-Hall sent game film of her entire junior season to colleges, but she has yet to set foot on Cornell’s campus. She said she’s been checking out the facilities via Google Maps while she waits to visit Ithaca, New York.
Until then, Parker-Hall is working to keep her team focused on the upcoming season. Though the IHSA recently postponed the basketball season until at least 2021 because of the ongoing pandemic, Parker-Hall believes it is important to stay optimistic as a team leader.
“You just always have to show that you’re being positive about the situation, no matter what,” Parker-Hall said. “I don’t want to think that we’re not going to have a season, so I continue to tell my teammates ‘You still want to work hard in practice, we’re still going to have a season.’ I really think that we’re going to have one.”
That mindset is what stands out the most to Schoenecker. Her first two years at Loyola, Parker-Hall had to get up at 4:15 a.m. to get to campus from Oak Lawn, a southwest suburb 50 miles from Wilmette.
Schoenecker pointed out that Parker-Hall balanced schoolwork and basketball every day with a smile on her face.
It’s a testament to Parker-Hall, who has relied on her work ethic and optimism to become a crucial part of Loyola’s program.
“We knew she was going to be special on the floor,” Schoenecker said. “For me it was how she was able to do things off the floor.”
Nick Frazier is a freelance writer primarily covering high school sports. He most recently was the sports editor of The Highland Park Landmark and The Lake Forest Leader. You can follow Nick on Twitter at @nikfraz14