Head coach Audra Cohen faced the east-side courts alongside 10 other players as they watched junior Skyler Miller conclude their six-hour day of tennis. Each and every player and coach wore stickers and patches from head to toe in honor of their late assistant coach Parker Ross, who died Jan. 24 from a stroke in Colorado. He was 36.
On the stickers were the words “sedikit demi sedikit,” an Indonesian phrase that was tattooed on Ross. It means "little by little" in English, and it has become a saying of magnitude for this team. A dominant win over Oral Roberts and Missouri-Kansas City in their home opener with a combined score of 13-0, along with the stickers, was the Sooners' way of honoring Ross.
“That's part of our badge and kind of how we honor him,” Cohen said. “If you work little by little, you're going to, at the end, be able to be proud of what you've accomplished.”
Despite Ross' less than six months on the team, Cohen said Ross brought a demeanor that made others gravitate toward him, and players reached out to listen.
“Parker was an incredibly positive guy, and just the way that he would want them to handle it is actually the way that they have handled it,” Cohen said. “They really have taken the little lessons that he taught them along the way and included them and brought a lot of positivity and energy to that process.”
The “little lessons” and the saying “little by little” fueled the Sooners to a not-so-little victory Saturday afternoon.
The players will remember Ross for the time they had with him, not the time that was lost. “Sedikit demi sedikit” will forever enrich their memory with the good experiences they had, and they will continue to honor his coaching philosophy throughout the rest of the 2020 season.
“I remember Parker saying to us often is that he never tanked a point in his life, and 'tank' in tennis means not trying. It means to give up or just to throw a point of a match,” Cohen said. “I think (never tanking is) just so true to who he was, and I think that is something that the girls really think about now.”
Ross, a man of many sayings, is leaving his mark on the Sooners with his insight and positivity. With every point scored, set taken and match won, the Sooners will honor Ross by thinking of him when the team competes.
"It's like every point you have is special," Cohen said. "It's an opportunity, and you have to enjoy it and embrace it and be thankful that you have this chance to play for the Sooners."