Wilson Hall's Parker McInerney didn't intend on playing college sports, but the perfect one fell into his lap when he signed to shoot air rifle at The Citadel on Monday.
McInerney started in the sport as a sophomore when he lived in Stuttgart, …
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McInerney started in the sport as a sophomore when he lived in Stuttgart, Germany. His Junior ROTC instructor suggested trying to join the air rifle team and he instantly fell in love with the sport. Within his first couple of times visiting the team, he was able to beat several of the junior varsity shooters that had more experience under their belts and made the junior varsity team. He went on to earn some accolades, including a JROTC Percision Marksman medal, the highest medal given on a JROTC air rifle team.
"We just shot every day. It's a really relaxing sport. You don't really do much, you just sit there and shoot," said McInerney on how he fell in love with the sport. "I was coming from playing lacrosse, football, other sports that were more athletically demanding, but this sport was more mentally demanding. It's all about getting in the zone and focusing.
"Having ADHD, sometimes it's hard for me to focus and sometimes I can focus on things really well. I found out that riflery was something I could focus on and do really well at."
McInerney left Germany after his sophomore year and tried to find an air rifle team near Sumter but had very little luck. The nearest team was over an hour away, so he thought he was done with the sport. McInerney later decided to go The Citadel and when he was on campus for a pre-knob visit, he saw a poster for the air rifle team on the wall. He knew had to reach out to the coach.
"On the way out from me finishing the (pre-knob) essay, I saw on the wall a 'air riflery co-ed' poster and I was like, 'Hey, I did that,' so I called up the coach, told him I shot in Stuttgart and gave him some info for my coach, who said I was good. I said let's give it a try and he said 'OK, you have experience, and I'm willing to give you a scholarship.' I didn't choose The Citadel for rifle, but it ended up being one of the deciding factors."
With a scholarship on the table, Wilson Hall athletic director Glen Rector asked McInerney if he was interested in having a signing ceremony. McInerney was more than interested. Then COVID-19 happened.
With schools out of session, McInerney was still interested in doing a signing ceremony, but they had to get creative. They decided to do it over Zoom.
About a month and a half ago, I had to get approved to get a scholarship for the NCAA by the athletic director over at Wilson Hall, Coach Rector. He stopped me in the hallway and said, 'I didn't know you played any sports, do you want to have a signing ceremony?' And I said, 'Sure,' " said McInerney. "A month or so goes by and this corona thing happens, and I still wanted to make this happen. I suggested a Zoom call and he said sure.
"A majority of the faculty and a couple of my friends were there. Not as many people that would've shown up in person, but I was happy my extended family could see it because they live in Arizona and Michigan and elsewhere. That was the best part, definitely. Made it more exciting."
While McInerney wasn't necessarily planning on shooting in college, he's excited to again have a chance to compete in a sport he loves.
"It all just really fell into place. I never really expected that me deciding to go on the team (in Germany) would have such a big impact," said McInerney. "It's going to be exciting."
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