Parrott triplets leave their mark with Blue Jays
Success runs in the family for recent Liberty High School graduates
By Chris Geinosky
LIBERTY – Doug and Jennifer Parrott could tell from an early age just how different their triplets were going to be.
Eighteen years later, those differences still exist and can be clearly seen in their individual personalities. However, it’s the similarities between Sarah, Sam and Katie that will forever keep them in the memories of Blue Jay fans and cement their place in the Liberty High School athletic department’s history books.
“They are very different, but yet they have some characteristics that are the same,” Jennifer said of her three 2017 high school graduates. “They’ve always been extremely competitive.”
No doubt. That competitiveness drove the Parrott triplets to unprecedented success as Blue Jays – and established a lasting legacy that will not soon be forgotten.
Ironically enough, all three of the siblings completed their prep athletic careers as all-state award winners. Sam led the way, finishing as one of the most decorated boys golfers in Liberty program history, while Katie (girls golf) and Sarah (girls track) also achieved at the highest level in their respective sports as well.
“They’ve always been very competitive,” Doug reiterated about his triplets. “… But other than that, they really are three different kids that just share a birthday.”
The Early Years
After spending 10 weeks in the hospital, Jenifer eventually gave birth to the three kids on October 31 - Halloween – in 1998 while living in Iowa. Sarah was born first at 4:54 a.m., about 30 seconds before Sam and one minute before Katie at 4:55, a fact the eldest sibling does not hesitate to point out.
In their family scrapbook, a clipping can be found from a local newspaper about the birth of the triplets. Within the article, Doug referred to his children as his three spooks.
Ever since then, for obvious reasons, Halloween has become the family’s most revered holiday on the calendar. Many times through the years, the triplets celebrated their childhood birthday with coordinated outfits: everything from the Three Little Pigs, characters from Winnie the Pooh, and matching University of Iowa basketball and cheerleader attire.
However, in the other 364 days of the year, the kids often spent their time developing an independence of one another, as they moved to Liberty and began their schooling in kindergarten. Each of the siblings soon found their niche in terms of extracurricular activities as Sarah became an award-winning ice skater, Katie invested her time into dance, and Sam found his place on the golf course.
“I’ve always wanted for them to find the one thing that they really enjoy, excel at, and couldn’t live without,” Jennifer said. “I think that really happened for them. They found their passion.”
Granted it took plenty of coordination to take each of the children to their respective practices, which often would occur at the same time at different locations. But they always found a way to make it work.
“For the most part, we’ve just had to figure it out along the way,” Doug said. “We haven’t had any grandparents in town, no other family in town, so between friends and other families we were fortunate to have it all work out.”
The High School Years
Sam made an instant impact as a high school athlete. After recovering from a freshman football injury that left him with two broken vertebrae and in a back brace for months, Sam cracked the varsity golf lineup as a ninth grader that spring.
The rest is history.
During his four years, Sam collected numerous all-conference and all-district honors and made three trips to the MSHSAA Boys Golf Championships where he came home with top-15 finishes on each occasion. He’s one of only two Blue Jays in Liberty golf program history, joining 2013 LHS grad Zac Dittmer, to own the title as a three-time, all-state award winner on the links and also owns the team record for all-time lowest competitive round: a sparkling 5-under-par 66 that he recorded at Hodge Park Golf Course in 2016.
After tying for 14th place in the state as a freshman, Sam finished as the Class 4 state runner-up – the highest individual state showing by a Liberty boys golfer in nearly 40 years – his junior season and then closed out a memorable high school career by tying for fifth place this spring despite the fact he and his father were involved in a car wreck after departing the Liberty High School graduation ceremony in Independence for a practice round the day before the state tournament last month in Joplin.
“It’s not the way I wanted to go out,” Sam admitted. “I had much higher goals in mind, but after the car accident and my back flaring up, I knew it might not turn out the way I wanted. But I’m still happy with it. Even though I wasn’t 100 percent, I played pretty well, and I still made all-state again.”
Katie, who decided to move on from dance when she did not make the Sapphires, Liberty High School’s award-winning dance team, she turned her attention to her brother’s favorite sport and made it hers. And it didn’t take long for her to become one of the most improved players on the LHS golf team.
During her final two seasons, Katie remained a fixture in the varsity lineup and joined forces with fellow classmates Bri Walker, Kelsi Schmitz and Morgan Basye to create one of the top foursomes in program history. As seniors in the fall of 2016, the quartet led the Blue Jays to a fourth-place state showing and only the second all-state team trophy in Liberty girls golf program history.
“It was amazing,” Katie recollected. “To do something special with those girls will be something I’ll always remember.”
Once she reached high school, Sarah decided to retire from her career on the ice and shift her attention to the track. A three-time state qualifier, she played an important role on Liberty’s sprint relay crew.
Sarah’s biggest highlight came her junior year in the spring of 2016 when she teamed up with Brianna Goszewski, Kaitlyn Lewis and Avrie Jones to place seventh in the 4x100-meter relay and land on the state podium. Her passion, enthusiasm, work ethic and leadership made her stand apart.
“I loved being part of the team,” Sarah said. “People usually think of track being an individual sport, but for me, it was always about being part of something bigger than yourself.”
The Family Bond
Forget the sibling rivalries in this family.
While each of the Parrotts have always been driven to be successful in their individual activities, there never seemed to be competition between one another. In fact, they would consider themselves to be each others’ biggest fan.
Longtime head golf coach Forrest Bertoldie had the unique opportunity to guide two of the triplets each of the past four years in Liberty, Katie during the girls’ campaign and Sam during the boys’ season. He saw their relationship first hand.
“I have coached kids from the same household before many times in the past but nothing like triplets where it’s three of the same age at the same time,” Bertoldie said. “They each went about their high school experience in different ways, but I know there’s great pride in that family for the success of each other.
“… One of my most memorable moments was when I was talking to Sam once, and Katie came up and put her arm around her brother and put her head on his shoulder. It suggested the closeness that they have. It was touching to see the pride they have in each other.”
Liberty head girls track and girls tennis coach Pam Koch taught Sarah and Katie in science classes. Both of the Parrott girls, who were involved in a long list of other activities outside of sports including National Honor Society, served as babysitters for her children the past couple years as well.
“My kids have said they’re going to miss them when they go to college,” Koch said. “Both of those girls have a place in my kids’ lives, and they will always be dear to them. They would do anything for you.”
The Next Chapter
For the past 18 years, the Parrott triplets have grown up together, and just now it is starting to sink in that change awaits.
The history-making trio took in their final day together as Blue Jays, seated one next to the other at the Liberty High School graduation ceremony a few weeks ago at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena.
All of their prep accomplishments had become final. And even with those memories rushing through their heads, each admitted they quickly turned their attention to the future and what lies ahead in college.
Just how ironic did their decisions turn out? After donning the blue and white of Liberty High the past four years, each will wear red and black at their new institutions of choice.
Sam will continue his golfing career at the NCAA Division II level at the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg. Katie will play golf closer to home at William Jewell College in Liberty. Sarah will focus her time on academics at the University of Arkansas.
“It’s going to be strange not living together when we go away to college,” an emotional Katie said while wipeing away tears. “These two are my best friends. I look up to them a lot, and I want to make them proud.”
That's one feeling the triplets and their parents undoubtedly have had for the past 18 years. And one that's deserving after making history.