During his time in Kodiak, Michael Parnell was known as a runner. A good runner.
A distance specialist, Parnell helped lead Kodiak to back-to-back track state titles and one cross country state title before graduating in 2016.
He has since traded in his running shoes for a crosse and a surfboard.
After starting his schooling at Boise State University, Parnell is now at King’s College in London, where he landed on the school’s lacrosse and surfing club teams.
Lacrosse was new to Parnell when he arrived in England, but it didn’t take him long to get adjusted to the oldest organized sport in North America.
Using his endurance background, he scored 18 goals in 14 games this season as King’s College placed third in the five-team league.
“The competitive drive instilled in me by coach (Marcus) Dunbar during my time at Kodiak High School stayed with me, and I quickly worked my way up to the first time,” Parnell wrote in an email to the Daily Mirror. “Of course, it helped that not many people play lacrosse in England either.”
Parnell grew up surfing on The Rock, so joining the surfing club was a natural fit.
Parnell said the college surfing season is year-round but picks up in the winter when the storms cross the Atlantic Ocean. A few weeks ago, Parnell helped King’s defeat rival Imperial College in London.
Parnell said the surfing scene in England is similar to what it is like here.
“Lots of wetsuits, people looking for an escape into the wilderness, etc.,” Parnell wrote. “The only difference between here and Kodiak is I have to drive seven hours to get to a good surfing spot.”
Right now, Parnell is not doing any sporting activities as earlier this week, UK prime minister Boris Johnson put the country under a three-week lockdown due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
“We live near a major hospital, so there is a bit more traffic here, but much less than usual,” Parnell wrote. “My university has gone online for the remainder of the semester. Luckily, I have a balcony, so I can still be outside if it’s nice out.”
Parnell got a taste of Europe when he was selected to compete in the Red Bull Challenge in 2018. Parnell and two of his Boise State classmates bartered their way through Europe with only cans of Red Bull. The seven-day adventure started in Rome and ended in Amsterdam. His team crossed Italy, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands and finished 125th out of 200.
Months later, Parnell returned to Europe as part of a study abroad program and decided to stay. He is in the first year of a three-year film study program at Kings, which has Roughly 32,000 students — 40% international.
“There are tons of resources here for me. The friends I have made through my course, sports, and other clubs have also been a great resource for me,” Parnell wrote. “During this pandemic, many of my friends have offered for me to stay with them in England if travel restrictions to the US get imposed. Fingers crossed that they don’t before my flight home.”
Parnell is planning to return to Kodiak in May.