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John Harrar, Jonni Parker Earn Big Ten Medal Of Honor

Penn State men’s basketball’s John Harrar and women’s volleyball’s Jonni Parker were named the university’s recipients of the Big Ten Medal of Honor Monday morning. Both were previously recipients of Penn State’s prestigious Ernest B. McCoy Memorial Award.

The Big Ten Medal of Honor annually recognizes “one male and one female student-athlete from the graduating class of each member institution who has demonstrated excellence on and off the field throughout their college career,” as stated by the conference’s official website.

During her time in Happy Valley, right-side hitter Jonni Parker was an instrumental part of the continuance of Penn State women’s volleyball’s dynasty.

Over the course of her career, the team captain racked up 1,406 kills, 752 digs, 314 blocks, and 94 aces. Parker also earned four All-America honors, four All-Big Ten honors, and the Big Ten Freshman of the Year Award in 2018.

Parker was born with a rare condition that limits her hearing in both ears and has worn hearing aids since age 4. According to Penn State Athletics’ release, Parker played a “pivotal role” in the program’s annual Silent Set initiative, which raises awareness for those who are deaf or hard of hearing. In the first-ever Silent Set match, Parker naturally shined, and when the team scored its ninth point (coinciding with Parker’s jersey number), the crowd erupted.

Parker’s community impact was not confined to Rec Hall however. An elementary education major, Parker played her entire senior season while simultaneously working as a student teacher at a nearby elementary school.

After the hiring of the third different head coach of his career, center John Harrar returned for his fifth year of NCAA eligibility. In his final season, Harrar averaged 10.6 points and 10.3 rebounds per game, making him one of two players in the Big Ten to average a double-double and the first Nittany Lion in the last 22 years.

“Harrar’s grit, determination, and toughness led him to becoming one of the most beloved Nittany Lions in program history,” Penn State Athletics wrote.

Harrar’s Penn State career ended with him ranking No. 1 in games played (146), No. 2 in field goal percentage (59.6%), and No. 5 in rebounds (854) in the program’s history. Harrar earned two All-Big Ten honorable mentions and four academic All-Big Ten honors, as well as the Outstanding Big Ten Sportsmanship Award in 2021.

A recent graduate of Penn State’s master’s program in management and organizational leadership, Harrar has kept busy since his departure. In May, Harrar was reportedly invited to the Philadelphia Eagles’ minicamp and is currently preparing for “The Basketball Tournament,” where his team will compete for $1 million.

Harrar is Penn State basketball’s first to earn the award since 1995, while Parker is women’s volleyball’s first representative since 2018.

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About the Author

Sam Fremin

Sam is a senior from Ashburn, Virginia, majoring in journalism and political science & minoring in German and creative writing. He is a Dallas Cowboys fan who relishes the misery of Eagles fans. All hate messages can be sent to [email protected] or @SamFremin on Twitter.

He may or may not read every single comment he gets.

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