How would it be to be 14 years old and the best in the country and perhaps the world in something? Anything.
South Jordan's Denise Parker is in that category.She's the No. 1 representive for the U.S. women's Olympic archery team. The competition wasn't close.
The Olympics in Seoul, Korea, are pretty close, however - September. And while the Deseret News can't shoot any arrows for Denise (which is probably just as well), it can help get her parents and coach there to support her.
Now that she's on the team, the Deseret News is re-emphasizing its fund-raising drive. The goal: $10,000. About a quarter of that has been raised. This is a chance for Utahns to back an individual who could be a star performer at the Games. Denise has not only
caught Utah's fancy but the nation's as well. She's appeared on the Johnny Carson show and was on the cover of Parade Magazine. It's unusual in archery for someone her age to be the best. She is the youngest archer to represent the United States at the Olympic Games.
Denise's father, Earl, works for the Newspaper Agency Corporation, which is responsible for the circulation and production efforts of the Deseret News and Salt Lake Tribune. He says it takes about $15,000 a year to provide for training expenses.
"It's difficult for a junior, because they can't travel alone," says Denise's mother, Valerie. So, whenever Denise competes, one or both parents travel with her at their expense. And she competes a lot to keep sharp. After the Olympic Trials the Parkers traveled to Daytona Beach, Fla., for the Junior Olympic Nationals this weekend. Then, Denise and one of her parents will go to Caracas, Venezuela, for the Championship of the Americas competition. Denise has been traveling a lot the past year. One of the highlights was the trip to Indianapolis last year, where she not only participated in the Pan American Games but won two gold medals.
The biggest trip, of course, will be the one to Seoul for the Olympic Games. Valerie Parker estimates it will cost $4,000 per person for the trip and expenses while there. The United States Olympic Committee is paying for Denise, but her parents and coach are on their own. A private institution is paying for one of the parents. The cost to send the other and Ted Strickland - her coach - will be about $8,000.
Strickland thinks Parker has a good chance for an Olympic medal. Her chief competition, he believes, will come from the Koreans. It was only recently that female archers from Korea broke 330 out of a possible 360 points. Parker became the first American woman to better 330 when she got a 331 total in Tuesday's competition.
As the accompanying logo indicates, contributions to the Denise Parker Olympic Fund are being handled by Key Bank of Utah. Additional information on the fund-raising campaign is available by calling the Deseret News at 237-2135.