Young Portsmouth entrepreneur wins national scholarship

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PORTSMOUTH —  Middle-schooler Adam Parsons wasn't content with just attending a summer camp, so he started his own.

"For the past couple of years he and his friend, Cole Swider, founded and marketed a camp called Elite Sports Camp," said Lisa Parsons, Adam's mom.

The Swiders have a basketball court in their backyard, and the two boys ran a week-long baseball, flag football and basketball camp for grades 2 to 5 in July. "Last year they had 40 kids come for a week," she said.

The camp was just one on a long list of achievements for Adam, who was recently named the top male recipient among 400,000 students nationwide for a scholarship award from Under Armour.

The 13-year-old was one of 79 Pop Warner scholar-athletes awarded scholarships during the 53rd Annual Scholastic Banquet in Boston on May 25. Scholarships ranged from $500 to $5,000, with the top amount awarded to only the top two recipients — a boy and a girl.

The awards were based on academics and extra-curricular involvement, and Adam excels at both.

"Anyone who has a 96.8 or higher (grade average) is given a sheet to fill out. He plays sports, but he works so hard on the academics. It's nice to see him get recognized," said Ms. Parsons, adding that Adam had to list other academic achievements and extracurricular activitities.

"Because I had breast cancer, he did a lot of charity work — Relay for Life and other stuff like that. He does a lot of helping out in the neighborhood with housesitting or dog-sitting, He's also a camp counselor at church," she said of Adam, who's won multiple academic awards as well as a citizenship award at school.

Adam won the largest award in the Rhode Island division — a laptop — before earning the biggest overall scholarship in New England. "Then he went into a pool of 400,000 kids nationally," she said.

Besides the Under Armour award, Adam recently was the Portsmouth recipient of the People's Credit Union Scholarship.

The Elite Sports Camp that he and Cole started was certainly a contributing factor in Adam getting the scholarship, his mom said.

"I think that made him stick out. They created it, they organized it, they marketed it, they did all the payment information, they hired speakers to come every day," said Ms. Parsons. "He was actually way ahead of me. He set up a PayPal account. I said, 'Wait a minute — stop.'"

The camp, in which Adam's friends served as counselors, proved to be a hit.

"The kids were like, 'That was the best camp we ever went to,'" she said.

The sports camp isn't being offered this year; Adam is too busy preparing for football as he enters the high school in the fall. As for his future, the sky's the limit.

"It's going to be something to do with computers or engineering. He's going to be an entrepreneur — I just know it. He's going to invent something," said his mom.

"He has a drive in him that I can't explain."

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.