*Reprinted with permission from The Cullman Times 

By JAKE WINFREY

Sports Editor

When Nicholas Parrott ultimately made his decision to attend the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia this summer, it was about more than simply his love for soccer.

It was about going home.

Parrott, who graduated from West Point in 2014 and spent two years at Wallace State, was adopted from Russia by Michael and Cindy Parrott of Vinemont when he was just an infant.

 On June 13, though, Parrott — now a business major at Mississippi State — accomplished a lifelong dream by returning to his birth nation, where he hopes to one day do philanthropy work for the underprivileged.

“I knew I always wanted to go (to the World Cup),” Parrott said. “It’s everything you’d expect it to be. Probably the most remarkable thing about it is all the nationalities that are represented. To be there and to be a part of something bigger … you really can’t put it into words. There are so many people with different backgrounds, but there is so much joy and optimism.

“And it was more special to me being born in Russia, not to mention it could be one of the only times Russia hosts something of this magnitude.”

Parrott, who worked three different part-time jobs to help pay for the trip, spent three days in Moscow and traveled nearly 11,000 miles for the once-in-a-lifetime experience.

He eventually found his way into Luzhniki Stadium, took in the opening match — Russia eased past Saudi Arabia 5-0 to kick off the quadrennial showdown — and had an “incredible time.” Parrott also visited tourist staples such as St. Basil’s Cathedral and the Red Square.

 The fifth-year senior is hoping his wonderful experience will inspire others to chase their various dreams.

“People told me I should maybe use my money to go somewhere else or do something else,” he said. “But to me, successes and dreams look different to each person. When it’s something you really want to do, it’s hard to imagine doing anything else. Once you find enough motivation and have put in the work, you’re almost unstoppable. This opportunity was absolutely amazing.”

As for the future, Parrott is hoping to use his degree to help give back to orphaned kids like himself.

“I want to do it the right way,” he said. “You can donate money, but if it’s not managed right, it really doesn’t matter. Realistically, not every kid can get adopted. But if we do something on a big scale, especially with education, then we can give them more of a chance, and that would be a big accomplishment.

“Going to the World Cup gave me insight into that and really rejuvenated me.”

Cullman's Nicholas Parrott, left, grabs a picture with a fan at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

Cullman’s Nicholas Parrott, left, grabs a picture with a fan at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.