Updated: Feb 27
On Thursday, July 23rd, QBV had another amazing conversation with CJ Parsons. Parsons is a former Football player at Xaverian Brothers High School, and even played Tight End at Boston College. He has a ton of Football experience and had a great career at BC.
CJ Parsons is now a certified personal trainer and runs his own training program called "Parsons Sports Performance" . We learned more about not just Football and family, but we learned about misconceptions with athletic training.
Did you always play Football? Did you play any other sports growing up? Where did you grow up?
“Early life was good for me, I had two parents who loved me, one of four I was the oldest. Me, my little Sister and my younger brothers all athletes. My Dad played ball, Football and Baseball, played at Lafayette, made it to the bigs for a little bit he played a season and a half with the Broncos before blowing his knee up.
I was always raised playing sports, my Dad coached Little League and all of that growing up and taking trips to AAU tournaments just me and him. I was always playing things growing up I had a happy childhood growing up it was great.”
What made you go to Xaverian? What was your experience like?
“My Dad could tell you better, my Dad told me I had some sort of fascination with it, I don’t remember to much of that. I guess we went to a few games when I was in Elementary school, we would go to the Saturday games and I had some of fascination with it. I think it was big crowd, success and the tradition of success, I am sure that was a big factor.
I had in my head since I was 3, 4, 5 years old I was going to be a ball player, that was it. In Massachusetts, playing High School Football is limited compared to the rest of the country, Texas, Florida, New Jersey, California, very limited options compared to these other states. Xaverian was the spot, that was a big factor...”
What player did you admire growing up?
“My favorite player growing up, I thought I was a Quarterback, my favorite player growing up was Drew Bledsoe. Being from here, I was a big Drew Bledsoe fan. When the Pats weren’t winning super bowls yet, he was definitely one of them. Mike Vick was something to watch, in his prime he was one of a kind."
Can you tell us about the recruiting process?
“I wasn’t a big five-star recruit, where I had college coaches pouring out of the door. Rivals and some of the online recruiting type software's and the combine type camps were just starting to get big, me being the oldest child and my father not having experience with that, I kind of missed that. It was interesting because I knew I had potential to play big time ball somewhere, I didn’t get my first scholarship offer till pretty late into my Junior year. I think Northeastern was the first one, then I got a hand full of others that followed it.
Then I started getting some attention from UMass, then Marshall was my first D1-AA offer, BC, Duke and a few others. It wasn’t as exciting as some other guys. I did a couple of the official visits, don’t get me wrong it was exciting but in the back of my head I was frustrated I wasn’t getting noticed...”
Was there an initial shock when first training for Football? Being at Northeastern and changing to BC?
“So, this is more of a compliment to Coach Stevenson, then it is an attack at anyone else coach or staff, anything like that. When I got to camp at Northeastern, I was surprised at how much lesser of a jump I thought it was. That is because Xaverian is ran like a big-time college program, talk to Ken Warge, I think he had three or four coaches and twenty guys on the team and that blew my mind.
At Xaverian we had five Football teams, 150 guys wanted to play Football, fifteen, twenty assistants, and off the field guys it’s a real time program. I expected an even bigger jump, not that I was let down but I was like, ‘Ok I came from a big time High School, with an amazing staff.’ It was crazy!
Then the jump to BC there was a shock. It’s a D1 ACC school, I wasn’t shocked, I was ready, but I was like yeah, yeah, this is competition...”
What was it like when Northeastern pulled its football program?
“My true freshman year I had knee surgery, I took a red shirt, rehabbed it for the season and the following year the AD comes in and sits the team down, ‘Hey boys, we are terminating the Football program,’ and then he walked out. That caught everybody off guard, no one was expecting it.
I mean it was tough for everyone, there were a couple kids in my class who were preferred walk-on type guys, that worked there tail off and were promised scholarships and some of those people broke down because they had family toss some dough up, to help them with a year of paying and were expecting their final two, three years to be paid for and those guys were shit out of luck.
It was tough and I had to redo the recruiting process again. I had to choose to stay on Football scholarship and stay and play Baseball or do I want to go play Football? In my gut I knew I wanted to go and play Football, our opening game I think we opened up at BC and Dave Schinsky and the Eagles lit us up. It was a slaughter and you could tell we had no right being out there on the field with them.
It was embarrassing coming from a school like Xaverian I wasn’t used to losing. I’m not saying that one game made the decision for me but I wanted to go play Football at a big school and I went through the recruiting process again, lucky enough I went across town to play at BC.”
What made you choose BC over the other schools you could have chosen?
“The second time around it was really between BC or Duke. Being from here, really played a factor, my family is important to me. My Mom she’s had health issues, so I want to be close. My brothers were at Xaverian, I wanted to be close for them, yeah family is important to me.
My Mother went to BC, when I was a newborn the first clothes they put on me were little BC socks on my feet. Kind of like how it was for Xaverian, I grew up watching ball. I’d go to Alumni Stadium with my Dad and we watched BC Football, it was a dream of mine! There are no other big programs in the Northeast really. This is where I grew up, this is where I want to go play ball...”
What is your fondest football memory at BC?
“I tell people this all the time, I tell my High School athletes and even my College athletes this. What I miss most about Football is the locker room, that camaraderie and being with your guys. You’re together twenty-four hours a day, you live together, you eat together, you play ball together, you’re in the locker room together, you go out together, everything. It is not as much like that in the NFL, there is something special about big time College Football. That bond you have with your eighty, eighty-five brothers, you got each other’s back. Of course, there are some issues, how can’t there be? With all those Type A, alpha personalities, in one spot for all that time. That brotherhood is something special, guys in the league, they have families, kids, it’s a job.
Of course, there are guys that love each other and have that bond but it's a job. It’s different in College Football, it’s something special. That’s not one specific memory but it is something I hold on to, that’s my favorite thing about College Football and that’s what I miss most about BC. I am trying to think of a specific memory every time I scored a touchdown we lost. For whatever reason, I guess it’s bad luck, every time I got in the endzone it was bad luck.
My first bowl game, we unfortunately lost, we played Colin Kaepernick when he was in Nevada with that nation leading offense, we had one of the nation’s leading defenses. We played in San Fran, in AT&T park that was pretty cool. Just that whole experience, flying out for the week, going out with the guys but getting ready for the game. All being together and prepping for that, just that whole atmosphere was unbelievable. I’m an eighteen, nineteen-year-old kid, that really wowed me, that was really awesome.”
What made you open your own facility? Tell us a little about your gym
“There’s a lot of misinformation and it is something I bring up a lot. My athletes will tell you, Instagram and social media, there’s a ton of great things about it, you and I kind of got connected through Instagram right, that's great. There’s so much information, what if there is a fourteen-year-old kid who’s just trying to get better but doesn’t have the means to do it? Or doesn’t have anyone to lead him. So, what is he going to do? He’s going to go on social media and type in Football specific training. He is going to see people bouncing up and down on a Bosu ball with one leg, and an eye patch on with his eye following a laser with his other eye and catching fourteen different objects. That is kind of what it has turned into in some kinds of ways.
A lot of people try and compete with each other to try and get the coolest looking video of each other. Sometimes the people that are doing it don’t know any better. It’s not like there is a better system of educating strength coaches and trainers. There’s plenty of education out there, there’s great textbooks, there’s great certifications and great mentors out there. But, at the same time there is an abundance of information out there, that’s really tough for a kid out there with no background, no knowledge in strength and conditioning or physiology to kind of decipher what’s good and what’s not.
Everybody wants to do what the pros are doing, sometimes the pros are unbelievable ball players and they can do things on the field that no one else can. But that doesn’t give them the knowledge base of strength and conditioning, and physiology. When they see a pro guy doing it, they want do it. I’ve had some unbelievable experiences with strength and conditioning coaches, Alfano being at the top of the list. That guy has been a huge influence on my philosophy, and training. Just sparking my interest there’s a million other guys I can name.
At the same time, I have had plenty of bad experiences, at my time at BC I think I went through four or five strength and conditioning coaches, we had a head coaching change staff was going in and out. I had some occasions where private and some team strength coaches had negatively affected my performance, or it lead to not injury, but in my head it could have been better.
That kind of ignited the flame to try and help athletes to just be their best. Starting, I definitely had an ego going in, thinking I can do this better than everyone, I knew everything, I didn’t have a f****** clue. I figured it out, I used myself as a guinea pig plenty of times. I still do that when I need to add a tweak. If there is a new method, or principal I play on it with myself.
It may be a little egotistical but I want to run my service, if it’s going to by my name it’s going to be my product. I feel that coaching and including strength coaches, is an art and science, if it was just science it would be a breeze, build a template and boom...”
What part of training do you feel like football players under appreciate?
“Football players like any athletes especially college and high school, lack the basics. If you look at training just like a pyramid, the bigger that foundation, the taller the pyramid is going to be, but it takes time and you got to master the basics first. If you can’t master those basic movement patterns, squat, hinge, press, pull, those are huge.
If you can’t have a basic level of general fitness, just an aerobic base, Football is a lactic sport, go, go, go, five, six, seconds all out, thirty, forty seconds off and that’s on repeat, Football is entirely a lactic sport, the bigger your aerobic capacity is, the quicker you are going to recover in between sets, series, games, practice and all that. It helps you tolerate higher intensities for higher volumes of training, which is huge...”
What advice do you have for young athletes?
“Enjoy your life, I tell parents this all the time, don’t specialize your kids to young. We want to expand their athletic bandwidth and give them as much information they can possibly have. You see it a lot in golf, soccer, hockey, tennis and sports like that, Football is one of those to. You are doing the same biomechanics and same movements, it’s going to really limit your athlete. Physically you are limiting their potential and ability, because they are unable to access new information, and you want that new information.
That way instead of having two options in a situation the kid has three, four, or five, a whole array of options. The other thing is when you have kids that young, playing only hockey, or only soccer a lot of times, they get burnt out and hate it. Team sports are huge for kids, they learn how to handle, disappointment, loss, at the same time responsibility, commitment, all that kind of stuff, life lessons, working as a team, and they should love it, if they aren’t passionate about it, they are never going anywhere for it, that’ll limit it too.
Let them try as many things as they can and they’ll grow into their position. You can’t take a kid who’s younger and hasn’t hit puberty yet and say okay this is your sport. What if that kid hits a six to eight inch growth spurt and gain some eighty pounds. That kid will probably not be able to be a soccer player... That’s what I do with my gym, I love waking up everyday and being with my athletes, and getting them right, I have a ball doing it.”
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