Hite's son Parker going to West Point

Parker Hite, son of Elite angler Davy Hite, is following in his dad's footsteps. Bassmaster.com

Parker Hite is 19 years old and has followed in several of his father's substantial footsteps.

Bassmaster Elite Series pro Davy Hite was the quarterback of his high school football team. So was Parker.

Davy was well-regarded by almost everyone in his hometown as he was growing up. So was Parker.

Davy served in the United States military for 12 years. And now … so will Parker, as one of South Carolina's newest appointees to the United States Military Academy at West Point.

Parker Hite is a redshirt freshman at Newberry College in South Carolina and after starting several games as quarterback last season, he was looking like he would get to start a lot next fall. This obviously made his parents, Davy and Natalie, very proud. But a game-changing decision he made a few months ago made his parents even more proud and somewhat humbled by their oldest son.

"When Parker signed on with Newberry College, his football coach told him, 'You won't stay here. You have a higher calling,' " Davy said. "There's just something about Parker. He's always been known in school and athletics for his hard work ethic and his good grades."

"He's had a few people over the years -- coaches, teachers, and family friends, tell him that he would be well-suited for a military academy. And he toyed with the idea of going to the Naval Academy while he was in high school, but a kid really has to commit to that their junior year of high school and he didn't do that."

Instead, Parker pursued one of his passions which was football and was awarded a scholarship to Newberry College, just 25 miles away from the Hite's home in Ninety Six, S.C., which made mom and dad happy because he was close to the nest.

But this year he began to talk about West Point or the Naval Academy again. In fact, he talked about it enough that the Hites began to realize he was very serious.

"Natalie and I spent a lot of time talking to him about it. We wanted to be sure this was something he really wanted to do. He would have to start over as a freshman, or plebe, and lose the two years of college credits he had already completed. And he would give up his place as a quarterback, which we knew was important to him," Davy said. "But he was very aware of all those things.

"As a former soldier, I knew what West Point would be about and I told Parker that if he did this, it would be the very hardest thing he would ever do in his life. We all spent some time thinking about and praying about it and he ultimately decided he wanted to go for it."

However, as Davy knows, wanting to go to West Point and being appointed to West Point are two very different things.

Candidates apply directly with the USMA and must also receive a nomination, usually from their congressman. When the Hites called the office of one of their congressman, Lindsey Graham, they were disappointed to hear that all of the West Point packets had been sent out a week earlier.

But they didn't give up.

Instead they reached out to the office of South Carolina's freshman congressman, Jeff Duncan, who had been elected last fall. Since he was new to Congress and establishing his offices there, he was running behind on sending in his military academy nominations. He had one slot left to include as a nomination.

The application process to West Point involves getting letters of recommendation from guidance counselors and teachers in high school, and in Parker's case, college. The applicant must write an essay, complete a physical exam and must also pass a Candidate Fitness Assessment given by someone approved by the USMA. This process usually takes months to complete.

Parker and his mother, Natalie, got it all done in four days.

"Natalie is essentially a single parent for 6 months out of the year while I'm fishing the Elite Series. I have to hand it to her for getting everything done that quickly," Davy said.

After rushing to get everything submitted, all they could do was wait.

And at the end of February, just as Davy was getting ready to go to the Bassmaster Classic to work for his sponsors, they heard back from West Point.

"When we read that letter … and it said 'On behalf of the President of the United States and the Secretary of the Army, I am pleased to announce that The United States Military Academy has accepted you for admission' … Natalie and I both cried. It's such an honorable thing that he is doing," Davy said.

"Of course, as his parents, we get a little worried. It's a long way from New York to South Carolina and after he graduates he will most likely deploy. Any parent would worry about that. But there's no way in the world we would have tried to talk him out of it.

"He is going to go defend his country. And be a leader."

The last day of the Bassmaster Elite Series competition is Sunday, June 19.

Parker Hite will report to the United States Military Academy on Monday, June 20.

Davy Hite knows that with only the Top 12 anglers fish on Sunday of any tournament, so it's impossible to plan his travel to New York to see his son off to his military training.

"But I'll be there. If I fish on Sunday, I'll be flying out Sunday night. One way or another I will be there."
Maybe the rest of us in this country can sleep a little easier knowing that, when the time comes, men like Parker Hite will be there for us.