By Curtis Marlin
Since Jimmy Parker has been at Portland High School, the eighth year coach has seen one of his players sign to play baseball at the next level. Monday, Parker not only had one but two sign at the same time with both going to the same school.
Kemper Dixon and Nick Lingo, both seniors, inked Monday with Cumberland University to play baseball for the legendary Woody Hunt.
"It's special to have two in one year go to sign to go to the same school," Parker remarked. "It's really unique. They have been playing baseball together since the age of five. They get along, have a lot of talent and bring a lot to the table."
Dixon started playing baseball at age four and spent some time at the Little League Park before moving to Dixie League when he was six.
"I played Dixie until I was 12," Dixon said. "When I was 12, I had a decision to make, continue to play Dixie or play for the Sluggers. I chose the Sluggers."
Dixon also played football and in the fall, going from one sport to another could be challenging.
"I would finish football practice and change clothes and get ready for a fall baseball game," Dixon explained. "They wouldn't have enough players for baseball, so they had to wait on me to walk across the field after I had changed clothes."
Dixon entered high school and was nervous about tryouts for the varsity baseball team and did make the squad.
"I didn't think I would get to play much," Dixon pointed out. "Shawn Callis was a senior and was the team's catcher. They made me a designated hitter and I enjoyed that."
Dixon started playing catcher in his sophomore season.
"Kemper is a four-year starter for us," Parker noted. "It's rare for a kid to be that good."
Dixon also played football for the high school and wasn't sure which sport he would pursue when the time came to make to a decision about college.
"I thought it would be baseball," Dixon pointed out. "When I decided on baseball, my parents left it up to me to choose what college to go to. I feel like Cumberland was the right place for me."
Dixon has been greatly influenced by dad Randy, who also played at Cumberland University in the '80s.
"He's made a big
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impact in my life," Dixon said. "From t-ball to high school, he has supported me. He never individualized, however. He would teach things to everyone. When I'm on the field, he is my coach, not my father. My mom has also been a big supporter. I'm blessed to have the support of my parents."
Kemper's high school coach has also played a pivotal role in his life.
"He's tried to make things better and to be a vocal leader on the team," Dixon said about Parker. "Coach Parker has high morals and is a great man."
Dixon is not sure what position he will have when he gets to Cumberland. But he is appreciative of the opportunity to play at the next level.
"I'm excited for the opportunity. I will start off on the junior varsity squad. But Coach Hunt told me I might have the opportunity to play varsity. That depends on how much and how hard I work."
"Kemper always hustles and when he is on the field, I don't have to worry," Parker added. "He is steady and we rely on him. The kids look up to him. He will be missed after this year and right now I don't really want to think about that."
Dixon is not sure what studies he will pursue, but being a veterinarian or an accountant or athletic trainer is on his list of possibilities.