Cara Park attending Akron University has not exactly been a well-kept secret over the past two years.
After storming on to the local volleyball scene as a freshman at West Holmes High School, Park began accumulating some eye-popping statistics in leading the West Holmes team to some impressive seasons.
The dynamic set-machine, who doled out the third most career assists in Ohio High School Athletic Association history, had Akron’s eye by the time her sophomore year rolled around. It didn’t hurt that both her father and mother, Jim and Lynda Park, were standout Zips athletes in baseball and volleyball, respectively.
However, with the Lady Knights season now over, having ended in the regional final, Park will now turn her attention to readying herself for playing for Akron next year. She officially signed on to play on Thursday, Nov. 12 at West Holmes High School, where family and friends gathered for the signing celebration.
“When I went to Akron for a camp in sixth or seventh grade, I absolutely loved it there,” said Park. “I liked the coaching staff and everything about it. I thought way back then that it seemed like a place I would really love to play.”
A two-time All-American in high school, Park surpassed the 3,000 assist mark this past season in a game versus Orrville Sept. 23, and then progressed to take over the number three spot overall in OHSAA assist history. Park now trails just friend and off-season teammate Megan Polak of Gates Mills Academy, who holds the state record with 3,556 assists, and Anna’s Kelsey Zumberger, who amassed 3,496 assists. Park is currently third, having moved past Lehman Catholic’s Emilee Seger, who had earned 3,013 assists.
While Park is an accomplished hitter, and an even better blocker at the net despite being the Lady Knights setter for four seasons, it is dishing out assists and helping teammates find kills that truly makes her happy. “It’s kind of awesome, because I have worked so hard on this game over the years,” said Park of the top-tier assist record.
“I think it helps prove to myself that the time I put in was worth it, and that I really am capable of playing at the next level.”
A relentless worker, Park has put in countless hours through her high school and JO careers. She is the kind of kid who wants to outwork everyone else, and she also loves the challenge of accomplishing things that many people would see as being out of reach.
“When people doubt you or don’t think you can do something, that is a challenge I enjoy tackling,” said Park. “I love to work at this game and improve any way I can. Volleyball has been a huge part of my life, and I have definitely enjoyed the relationships I have made over the years through both high school and JO.Our group of seniors has been so close, and I wouldn’t ever trade that.”
Her coach and father, Jim Park, said watching his daughter and star setter play over they eras has been a blessing, and he knows she will find success at the next level because of her work ethic and desire.
“Cara is a relentless worker,” said Park. “Other kids who are going to college next year talk about taking a month or two off. I don’t think that thought has ever entered Cara’s mind.
She doesn’t want a month off. She is ready to dive right into the next phase and keep working toward becoming a part of Akron’s team next year.”
It is that kind of mentality that has landed Park in the OHSAA record books, and put her on the West Holmes Wall of Fame multiple times.