WILLIMANTIC, Conn. -- Junior runner Zach Parisella (Hamden) was formally presented with his award by NCAA representative Tiese Roxbury and Eastern president Dr. Elsa Nunez prior to the April 24 home baseball game against Becker College. Parisella was named NCAA Division III Male Student-Athlete Sportsmasnhip Award recipient for 2017-18 for his actions during the University of Massachusetts Invitational that September.
Each year, the NCAA honors one male and one female student-athlete in each division who, through their actions in the competitive arena, demonstrates the ideals of sportsmanship through fairness, civility, honesty, unselfishness, respect and responsibility.
During the UMass Dartmouth Invitational, Parisella and Adrian Higgins of UMass Boston emerged from the woods at the two-mile mark of the course on the very hot Saturday afternoon. Higgins dropped to his knees with exhaustion. Zach turned around, going back to the other athlete, taking him by the arm, and encouraging him to keep running. Parisella and Higgins ran the last mile together, then sprinted to race each other at the end. Higgins crossed the line officially in 32 minutes and 5 seconds, and Parisella in 32 minutes and 8 seconds, the two smiling and hugging each other at the finish.
When asked if he knew the other runner, perhaps from high school, Parisella answered “No, but we’d run the entire race together, I wasn’t just going to leave him there.”
Parisella was nominated for the award by Eastern head cross country and track and field coach Kathy Manizza.