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LONG BEACH STATE NOTEBOOK / JASON REID : Parsons Succumbs to Shoulder Problem

October 18, 1994|JASON REID

Kip Parsons thought he would have a great senior season while leading the 49er water polo team back to respectability.

In Parsons' plan, he and the team would be in top form by now, near the front of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation standings and getting ready to charge into the NCAA playoffs. The plan, he figured, was foolproof.

Ah, not so fast.

What Parsons didn't count on was that his body, which had not previously let him down through a standout career at Villa Park High and Long Beach, had a plan of its own. Parsons' plan was scrapped Sept. 21 when he underwent season-ending surgery on his right shoulder.

"I feel like I'm kind of trapped," said Parsons, 21. "For the first time, I feel like a young man trapped in an old man's body.

"I worked so hard this summer to have a great season this year, and then this happens."

Parsons (6 feet 4, 220 pounds) began experiencing pain in his shoulder last season but didn't think much of it. He believed the discomfort was the normal minor irritation one might expect from flinging a ball around a pool for almost half your life.

However, Parsons realized by late August his problem wasn't average. X-rays revealed strained ligaments in his shoulder, which doctors expected would keep him out of the pool for about a month after the surgery.

During surgery, though, doctors discovered that Parsons' shoulder had not grown correctly. A screw was inserted to correct the problem and Parsons' season was over before it started.

"This is so frustrating," said Parsons, who was selected All-County by The Times in 1990-91 at Villa Park. "I go to games and I (visualize myself in the pool).

"I just want to jump in the pool and play."

Compounding Parsons' disappointment is that the team has struggled--again. Hit by several serious injuries in addition to Parsons', the 49ers are 4-12, 0-5 in MPSF. Long Beach did not qualify for the NCAA playoffs the last two seasons and is 11-38 during that span.

Parsons was one of the guys Coach Ken Lindgren counted on to get things back on track. Parsons plays the two-meter position, which is similar to a center in basketball, Parsons said.

He was selected second-team All-MPSF as a junior after scoring 55 goals. Parsons has scored 97 goals over the last two seasons.

"This was supposed to be a real turnaround year," Parsons said, "and we have all these guys wind up getting hurt."

No injury caused more problems than Parsons'.

"It was a real big loss," Lindgren said. "Kip is one of our top scorers, and we needed him in the pool."

But Parsons hasn't sat around feeling sorry for himself.

A business administration major, he is using his former practice time to study. What's more, he's coaching a youth water-polo team in Long Beach.

"I'm having a total blast with it," Parsons said. "I'm learning a lot of things about the game I wouldn't have if I was in the pool right now."

Don't be fooled, though. Parsons plans to be back in the pool.

His therapy is difficult, but going well, Parsons said. Lindgren said Parsons was granted a medical redshirt season by the NCAA, so he can return next season to complete his eligibility.

"I'm real focused on my therapy," Parsons said, "and I can't wait to get back into the pool."

Hopefully for Parsons, this plan will go according to plan.

*

Morale boost: Lindgren's squad fought through its problems and won two matches last week.

The 49ers defeated Redlands, 13-5, Tuesday and UC San Diego, 17-16, in overtime Saturday.

"Playing shorthanded, it's nice to win like this," Lindgren said. "They played hard. They could have given up a couple of times when things weren't going real well."

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