Meet Parker French: UT star freshman, DSHS grad Reply

Recently called “mind-boggling” in a Dallas News College Sports Blog, Parker French is only a freshman at UT-Austin, but has quickly made his mark on the mound pitching for the Longhorns baseball program.

French is 6’2 and weighs 195, a right-hander whose fastball was clocked “grazing 90” (89-91MPH) in a scouting report that described French’s arm as having “durable power build that can help him in the future” which “also showed the makings of a hard slider.”

While at DSHS, according to his Longhorn profile, Parker was already a contender:

  • Lettered all four years at Dripping Springs High School under Coach Chris Payne
  • Named to the All-District Second Team as a freshman and a sophomore
  • Won District 26-4A MVP, First Team All-Centex and First Team All-State as a junior
  • Awarded First Team All-District and First Team All-Centex as a senior
  • Hit a cumulative .427 in his four years at Dripping Springs

Fresh from Dripping Springs, as a freshman Longhorn, French has hurled more than 32 scoreless innings at home this season, prompting the Daily Texan campus newspaper to ask whether there is something special about the mound at Dish Falk Field that Parker really likes.

Around Dripping Springs asked French that question and more, answered here in his own words. Meet Parker French!

ARE YOU A NATIVE OF DRIPPING SPRINGS?

I have lived in Dripping Springs for about 14 years now. I was actually born in Melbourne, Australia but moved to Connecticut after only six weeks. I lived in Connecticut for five years before moving to Dripping Springs

WHAT WAS YOUR ACADEMIC RANK AND ANY RECOGNITIONS FROM DSHS? 

I was in the top 11% of the DSHS Class of 2011. I was in National Honor Society and Spanish Honor Society.

WAS UT-AUSTIN YOUR FIRST CHOICE FOR COLLEGE?

Yes, it has always been my first choice. I was a Longhorn growing up, since both of my parents attended UT. I grew up going to a lot of baseball games and fell in love with the team and the atmosphere. When Texas became interested in me during my Junior year, they were at the top of the list. I have always wanted to play in the College World Series and win a National Championship and I felt UT gives me a great chance to do both.

WHEN DID YOU START PLAYING BALL AND HOW DID IT TURN TO PITCHING?

I started playing in the backyard with my dad when I was three-years old. I played for the first time competitively when I was four. Early in my career I was actually better at hitting than I was at pitching. It was around sophomore year that I started to throw pretty hard and pitching took over as my dominant skill. Ever since then, my pitching has taken off and become my dominant position.

WHAT WAS THE HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR DSHS CAREER ON THE MOUND?

There were so many great memories and big games, but the one that sticks out the most is when I threw a no-hitter against Lake Travis my senior year. It was my first career no-hitter and it came against our most hated rival, which made it even sweeter. That was also probably the most locked-in I have ever been on the mound, and definitely an outing that I will never forget.

WHAT IS YOUR SECRET TO THROWING MORE THAN 32 SCORELESS INNINGS AT HOME IN YOUR FRESHMAN SEASON THIS YEAR? NICE WORK!

Thank you. I don’t know if it is the mound, but something sure is working! I think since we threw so much during the fall and spring scrimmages at home that I became comfortable to the overall feel of the UT field and stadium. I have been very comfortable pitching at home which has helped me be more relaxed and be myself on the mound. I consider myself very lucky and blessed to have had this kind of success this early in my college career and can only hope for more to come.

WHAT ARE YOU ASPIRATIONS AS A UT BALL PLAYER?

Our main goal as a team is to win a National Championship. That is the expectation when coming to a place like this. But other than that I would say to represent the University, my family, and my community with class and humility and be a good role model to those watching me play. Also, in my career, I want to work hard to reach my full potential and play hard so when I look back on it, I will have no regrets.

WHAT ARE YOUR ACADEMIC ASPIRATIONS AT UT? 

Currently, I am in the McCombs Business School at UT and I am still deciding my major. I am leaning toward a degree in either finance or marketing. My main goal is to someday open up my own business, once I am done playing baseball. 

DO YOU HAVE MLB ASPIRATIONS AND WHAT WOULD BE YOUR DREAM TEAM?

Yes, another dream of mine is to one day play in the major leagues. I think I have wanted to ever since I was a little kid. My dream team would definitely be the Boston Red Sox. I love everything about the organization, especially their class and the amount of tradition that surrounds the team. It would be really awesome to get to play home games at Fenway Park.

HOW DID DRIPPING SPRINGS – THE SCHOOL AND THE COMMUNITY – HELP PREPARE YOU FOR THE SUCCESSES YOU’RE NOW HAVING?

I think it taught me how to work hard and be humble. At DSHS the courses were challenging which made you buckle down as a student, and the coaches didn’t care who you were, they were going to push you to your limits. That helped instill a work ethic that has helped me have success now at the next level. Another thing that has helped with my success is learning how to deal with failure. I was lucky enough to play varsity baseball at DSHS as a freshman, but what came with that was a lot of ups and downs. Being able to come back stronger from such failures early in my high school career, has now helped me on and off the field so far in college. 

THANK YOU, PARKER! HOPE TO SEE YOU AROUND DRIPPING SOON!

Read more about Parker French online at:

http://collegesportsblog.dallasnews.com/archives/2012/04/texas-pitcher-continues-mind-boggling-st.html

http://www.dailytexanonline.com/baseball/2012/04/22/french-extends-scoreless-streak-texas-blanks-jayhawks

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Complex controversy: Tale of two letters 1

To tax or not to tax – that was the question.

Round one in the Cypress Creek at Ledge Stone controversy over whether developer Bonner Carrington would or should pay its fair share of taxes for the proposed 244-unit $7M complex came to a somewhat dramatic conclusion at last Thursday evening’s DSISD school board meeting. Just as local residents opposed to the project had put out a call for public input at the meeting, and ramped up to wearing yellow t-shirts while handing out bright yellow postcards that declared “Stop tax exemptions!”, Bonner Carrington president Stuart Shaw announced he was willing to pay the project’s full share of taxes.

Shaw first shared the news late Thursday morning, directly with City Planner Jon Thompson in a face-to-face meeting, and then via email on Friday morning in a letter addressed to “Neighbors and Stakeholders.” In writing, Mr. Shaw clearly stated that he was willing to pay the full share of taxes for the development in order to be “a good neighbor” and because he had clearly heard the arguments against tax exemptions.

Round Two

Up for discussion throughout the preceding months of growing controversy over the project was an optional PILOT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) under which the developer would agree to pay the same amount as would be due in taxes. The benefit of PILOT payments, according to the developer, would be that all of the money paid would stay in Dripping Springs, rather than be disbursed out to other school districts through the State’s “Robin Hood” education funding scheme (essentially, a transfer of tax wealth from property-rich districts to property-poor districts).

Nowhere in the letter sent directly from Stuart Shaw on Friday morning, was it stated that the alternate PILOT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) was off the table for the project, which has yet to be formally proposed in writing to the City.

City Planner Jon Thompson said he was careful to clarify with Mr. Shaw in person on Thursday morning when they met, that Shaw would still be willing to implement a PILOT plan instead of paying taxes. Thompson said Shaw told him that would be acceptable, as well, “if that’s what the community wanted.”

Thompson said he was completely satisfied from that conversation that the development agreement (presumably forthcoming this week) would present the option for either full payment of taxes based on an appraisal district valuation, or, PILOT payments under a tax exemption that would still represent the full tax amount.

Flip-Flop

But just when it seemed a win-win for the developer and taxpayers on Friday morning, an alternate version of what appeared to be the same letter from Stuart Shaw was sent out Friday afternoon by local developer Mike Schoenfeld. Mr. Schoenfeld’s company owns the land on which the Cypress Creek development will be built so, by his own admission, he is not an “un-biased party” to the project.

The version of Shaw’s letter sent out by Mr. Schoenfeld in the late afternoon contradicted the position Shaw had personally stated in the morning to Jon Thompson verbally, and in writing via email to “Neighbors and Stakeholders” regarding the possibility of PILOT payments. A key paragraph around the question of tax exemptions vs. PILOT payments is significantly altered. Here are the two versions of that paragraph:

Version from Stuart Shaw sent at 9:46am:

But more than anything, we want to be a good neighbor and a good community partner. And we’ve heard loud and clear that while this community does want apartments, it does not want them if they are receiving some sort of tax exemption.

Version sent by Mike Schoenfeld at 4:30pm:

But more than anything, we want to be a good neighbor and a good community partner. So we have abandoned the PILOT proposal and will pay our ad valorem taxes on the same basis as all property owners.

Will PILOT fly?

Several other sentences were reworded, added, or omitted; not unusual for a letter still passing through an editing process but – short of a mistake or a serious miscommunication – it would be unusual for the author of an important letter about controversy to stakeholders potentially involving millions of dollars, to directly send out an unfinalized version.

The Schoenfeld email did not state that the Shaw letter had been edited, revised, or altered from the original sent by Stuart Shaw. The Schoenfeld email introduced the modified version of the Shaw letter with a paragraph that set off another round of consternation among the group of residents who had organized the tax exemptions protests, and created additional confusion for the City Planner. That paragraph stated:

“Unfortunately for our school district, because of Robin Hood, the $100,000 plus annually that (the developer) will be paying in ISD property taxes (rather than through the PILOT program they had trying to get support for) will not stay in the district but rather will go to some other school district.”

However, City Planner Jon Thompson has confirmed that he spoke with Stuart Shaw again as recently as Monday, and confirmed that the PILOT plan is still an option for the project. According to Thompson, Shaw reiterated “if that’s what the community wants.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Emails were sent to both Mike Schoenfeld and Stuart Shaw on Friday, asking for clarification on whether the PILOT plan was still on the table for a proposed development plan with the City. Neither responded. Both gentlemen were contacted again on Monday, after the discrepancy in the two letters was realized, without response.

Both versions of the Shaw letter were personally sent directly to the editor of Around Dripping Springs by Stuart Shaw and Mike Schoenfeld respectively. Unaltered versions are available via email upon request from: info@arounddrippingsprings.com

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