“In the land of Uz there was a man named Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared the Lord and shunned Evil” – Job 1:1
Abilene Wylie’s Kade Parmelly is built and functions on the football field like an Arleigh-Burke class destroyer. Like the U.S. warship, Parmelly is wide, and as a member of the offensive line, his purpose is to intercept any incoming threats and send any perpetrators to the depths of the defensive secondary. The destroyer is meant to escort other ships, to provide the buffer between the enemy and the carriers. Even though the destroyers aren’t the largest of the ships, the escort comparison remains apt to Parmelly’s function on the football field.
I had the pleasure of watching Parmelly do exactly what he was seemingly built to do, destroy, on September 2nd in a nonconference bout with Lubbock Monterey, and he did not disappoint. Parmelly is exactly as advertised, a fighter in the trenches who gives whatever he has for the success of his team. Abilene Wylie lost that game, but rest assured, it wasn’t due to Parmelly’s lack of effort.
When I shook his hand after the game, he seemed like a healthy, strong, kind young man. He says “yessir” and “no sir”, and isn’t shy about his faith; in the genuine way that is so hard to capture in today’s society.
It’s hard to believe that just last season, he was unsure if he’d ever play football ever again.
“Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.” – Job 1:10-11
In the summer of 2015, Parmelly was preparing to play his junior season for the Wylie Bulldogs. He was at a church event, a church choir trip to be exact, when the headaches started. They went on for a month straight.
Parmelly was at Super Week at Pioneer Drive Baptist Church in Abilene, an event where the students are divided up into teams and put through various competitions in order to win points. Either before or after the event, there’s a sermon from a speaker that normally isn’t a part of the church. He jumped up, and as he came back to the ground, he instantly knew something was wrong. He was in extreme pain; he was dizzy and blacking out, he felt like all the blood from the rest of his body rushed to his head. It was sharp, like there was something fluttering around in his head that he couldn’t describe.
At first, Parmelly went home. He thought he was just dehydrated, that the headaches would run their course. They wouldn’t. Throughout that night, Parmelly began throwing up almost uncontrollably. At that point, it was enough, Parmelly and his parents went to the doctor.
There were multiple tests run on Kade, but no test could discern if anything was wrong. There was even a spinal tap run on him on the Saturday of that week, but everything came back negative. Doctor Rob Wiley, the doctor on hand, suggested an MRV – a type of MRI that determined slightly different results than an MRI using dyes on the following Monday.
Parmelly recalls sitting on his bed, the lights low due to his headaches. The scene that unfurled seemed like something out of a tearjerking movie. Wiley and four nurses entered the room, with a few other specialty doctors. They recommended that he be whisked away to Cook Children’s hospital immediately. Kade left without knowing what it was that ailed him. Kade’s father asked the one question no parent wants to ask:
“Am I going to lose my child?”
Wiley answered, “No, but if this goes unchecked, it could cause serious harm.”
Kade Parmelly wouldn’t find out what was causing the headaches and the dizziness and the blackouts until later in the day. He had blood clots in his brain.
The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger. Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.” – Job 1:12
Parmelly was rushed to Cooks and was placed on bed rest after a stint in the ICU. Nurses checked on him and gave him a heparin drip, which later turned to shots every two hours. According to Parmelly, he was asked his pain level at least every thirty minutes.
At first, Parmelly was dazed and confused. He didn’t know if this diagnosis would stick, as several diagnoses before this one had come and gone. However, this one was the real deal. Parmelly was left mostly by himself to grapple with a very real question: would he ever get to play the game he loved again?
After 5 days in Cooks, a prayer vigil, and lots of well-wishes, Parmelly returned home, on blood thinners for 6-8 weeks. Not wanting to be sidelined completely, Parmelly returned to watching practice the second Head Coach Hugh Sandifer allowed him to. Despite the upbeat nature of Parmelly, there were times when he was visibly upset that he had to watch practice from the sidelines.
Parmelly spoke of a particular instance, of when teammate Jake Taylor came up to him and told him his situation reminded him of the book of Job.
While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The fire of God fell from the heavens and burned up the sheep and the servants, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!” – Job 1:16
Somehow, someway, Parmelly had to get back on that field. After seven weeks of blood thinners and several weeks of being headache free and the scans of his brain revealing that the clots were in remission, he was finally released to play. He practiced the week of Wylie’s game with Liberty Hill, and was released to play in their game against Vernon.
Parmelly doesn’t recall feeling anything other than being thankful. The game he returned was Wylie’s homecoming game, he was able to take a picture with his family in full pads, and was able to play in one of the most meaningful games in a high schooler’s life.
Kade Parmelly didn’t just play. He played well. The destroyer was released back out into the sea after heavy maintenance, ready to hunt and protect again. Wylie beat the tar out of Vernon, 42-7. Later that night, the headaches started to creep back in.
The next week the Bulldogs were on a bye. Parmelly and some of his friends made plans to attend the Abilene High School game on Friday to watch the Abilene Eagles take on San Angelo Central. According to Parmelly, by Friday the sharp headaches had returned. Saturday morning, the vomiting returned, and Parmelly told his dad he thought the clots were back. A trip to Cook Children’s and another MRV confirmed Parmelly’s theory. The clots that he thought he had beaten were back.
The clots weren’t life threatening, but they were enough to have Parmelly question for the second time in three months whether he would be able to play the game he loved ever again.
“After this Job lived one hundred and forty years, and saw his children and grandchildren for four generations” – Job 42:16
Kade Parmelly doesn’t buy into traditions before games. He doesn’t listen to any specific song. He doesn’t eat any specific meal. The one tradition that he has is very simple: he spats his teammate’s cleats. Three of them in particular. Connor Carlton, Chris Sifuentes, and Cameron Hanna, to be exact. The one constant thing he does before games is give back to his teammates.
If you didn’t know about what happened to him in 2015, there’s no way you could tell in 2016. Kade made a full recovery after his second bout with the blood clots. He weaned himself off the meds slowly after the second round of blood clots went into remission. He lost 50 pounds leading up to this season to get back to his playing weight. He was cleared to play football again, and he’s already made a huge impact for Wylie on the field. He’s even got himself a scholarship offer from Abilene Christian University.
There really isn’t much that can stop Parmelly on the field. Blood clots in his brain can’t beat Parmelly off of it. Kade Parmelly is like a destroyer, one that keeps on getting holes shot in it. And like the warship, he’s been patched up, and back doing what he does best: escorting ballcarriers to the end zone.