John Pargo Jr. is a senior at Creighton Prep where he is about to make his next step to play in college football at Northwest Missouri State. Before this though Pargo Jr. had to go through multiple hurdles in life to make it where he is today.
Many people don’t get to start life easily. There’s a chance you could grow up with little to no money, sleeping on hotel room floors not really knowing what your next step could be.
That was life for John Pargo Jr., now a senior at Creighton Prep where he showed strides at wide receiver and defensive back. Those strides got him an opportunity to play college football where he will play defensive back at Northwest Missouri State this fall. But before that, life wasn’t all about smelling the roses.
John Pargo Jr. grew up in North Omaha, where he played football at 9 years old. He started his football career with the Junior Knights. Pargo grew up with players like Tyson Terry, an Omaha North player with multiple power five offers today.
“Playing on the little vikes, our team was stacked,” Pargo said. “It felt like we had the same competitiveness as high school, we didn’t lose.”
Pargo said he remembers it always being a packed house for their games. That shows how in-depth just playing football in North Omaha was, but despite this North Omaha is looked at as not the best part of town.
“Being good at football was your ticket out of North Omaha,” Pargo said.
Growing up there was a street in North Omaha, 24th street, where a lot of the crime and drugs were known to come and run rampant in that area. This street served as plenty of motivation.
“When I did not behave, my dad used to drive me down that street,” Pargo said. “He would tell me if I did not fix my act, I could end up just like the people there.”
Pargo grew up in a hotel room with his family of six. The hotel room only had two beds so for the most part he had to sleep on the floor. Some nights he had to sleep and have the feeling of rats and roaches all around him. His family also turned to shelters just to get clothing and food for Pargo Jr. and his siblings.
“Growing up like this made me grateful for the little things,” he said. “When you grow up from having nothing, you won’t know the cap when you have too much.”
This also inflicted on football as well. Because he had so little, Pargo didn’t think to drink water during practice. Coaches and teammates gave him the nickname, ‘camel’ as a result.
“They would always ask me why won’t you drink water,” Pargo said. “I just did not have it really available for me, luckily I only passed out from not having enough water once.”
Pargo eventually learned he needed that water and help from those around him. He marks his father as one of his biggest influences in his life.
“My dad was really blunt with me growing up, he always told me the truth,” Pargo Jr. said. “He really propelled me to where I am today.”
Pargo’s father did not have a father growing up so he made it his mission to be there for him. He went to all of his games, and even if he couldn’t make it he made sure he could watch it somehow.
“It’s important to be behind someone’s dream,” said his dad, John Pargo Sr. “I wanted him to know he could also look up from the 50 (yard-line) and know I am there 3 or 4 rows up.”
John Pargo Sr. said he knows this is about his son and he just wants him to enjoy it. Pargo Sr. said he wants to do his part to put him in the best position for him to succeed.
“My dad is really my best friend,” Pargo Jr. said.
In middle school, Pargo Jr. attended Lewis and Clark. During that time he found out he was decent at the sport of football and could take it to the next level, but his behavioral issues still plagued him. Pargo Jr. was suspended for two weeks from school and during this time he had a lot of time to think. His principal at Lewis and Clark had a son who graduated from Creighton Prep, and Pargo Jr. wanted the same opportunity.
“She told me I needed to change up my mindset if I wanted to go to (Creighton) Prep,” said Pargo Jr. “I told her I would do it and she let me come back to school.”
From there he played on the Junior Jays and got into Creighton Prep for high school after his eighth grade year. Soon after he met Creighton Prep head football coach Tim Johnk.
“John is very focused, athletic, and has a good knowledge of the game,” Johnk said. “He is very gifted and has played the game for a long time.”
The transition to high school football was a jump for Pargo Jr. at first. Slowly, he had to earn his time on the field.
“In little league I was always playing 24/7,” said Pargo Jr. “Not being in the game freshman and sophomore year, that really hurt me.”
Creighton Prep is a known Catholic school, and when Pargo Jr. was a freshman he started to really tap into his faith. Growing up he always prayed before games and still does to this day. But when he went to Prep Pargo Jr. said he started to really understand it.
“No matter all the adversity I have been through in life, God was always there the whole time,” he said.
In his early years of high school Pargo Jr. wasn’t always the best student. In his theology class he always seemed to fall asleep and was always woken up by his teacher Amy Masek.
“She never gave up on me,” Pargo Jr. said. “Everyday she would always ask me how I am doing, made me come to her class to learn, and she was able to make me thrive in school.”
Through her help and being strong in his faith he ended up getting baptized April 16, 2022 and Masek was his sponsor.
“He has come a million miles from where he was freshman year,” Johnk said. “That fire in his belly to prove people wrong, he has been able to accomplish a lot here.”
Pargo continued to climb up the depth chart at Creighton Prep. In his senior season at defensive back, he finished with 55 tackles and five interceptions. On the offensive side of the ball he tallied 409 all-purpose yards that included 223 yards receiving and a touchdown. Pargo Jr. was selected a first-team all-Metro player by the Omaha World Herald and from that decided he wanted to continue his career and play college football.
During his junior season though he underwent hip surgery which seemed to push some schools away despite still posting a 4.3 in the 40 yard dash. One school that had some Omaha connections got in contact with him and that was Northwest Missouri State.
“They win a lot, and they have a very good culture there,” Pargo Jr. said “You get to be around a lot of people that love the game.”
He signed to play at Northwest Missouri State on Feb. 1. College football is the next hurdle for Pargo Jr. but what he has gone through in life has made him ready for this moment. From growing up in hard times to finding himself before high school, he is an example that no matter where you come from you can always make it to the top. He has a hoodie that he wears where he has his last name on the front and on the back it says ‘love the process’.
“A rose can grow from anywhere, as long as you get the soil,” Pargo Jr. said.
Pargo Jr. will enroll at Northwest Missouri State this fall, where he will play defensive back. And despite his rough start to life, he hopes to continue that dream that he had as a kid, to play in the NFL.