After 10 years of high school baseball coaching experience, Stacy Parker’s first gig leading a team will be on a different diamond.
Parker has been hired as the head coach for Dalton High School’s softball program, replacing Jeff McKinney. Parker is the team’s third coach since the end of the 2011 season.
An assistant football coach for nine seasons at Dalton, Parker started his high school baseball coaching career as an assistant at Fairburn’s Landmark Christian in 1993.
Before coming to Dalton in 2004, he was an assistant coach at Adairsville High School (1994-1996), Bartow County’s South Central Middle School (1998-1999) and Cass High School (2003). He was an assistant baseball coach for the Catamounts from 2004 to 2005 and was a wide receivers and special teams coach for the football program this past season.
But Parker, 43, grew fond of softball as his two daughters got older.
“I’ve got daughters and my youngest is a sixth-grader,” he said. “She’s a softball player. Ever since I’ve gotten involved in softball, I’ve grown to love the sport. ... I enjoy softball and baseball. It seems like a natural fit for me.”
Parker has coached travel youth softball for eight years and has more than 200 wins. That experience sold athletic director Ron Ward and the other members of the interview committee: McKinney, Principal Debbie Freeman, Assistant Principal Steve Bartoo, assistant softball coach Lacie Coquerille and a booster club parent, whom Ward declined to name.
“Stacy has sold himself to us already over his years of service as a teacher and football coach,” Ward said. “The unknown entity was what qualified him to be our softball team’s head coach. ... It was one of the easier decisions I’ve had to make when making a coaching hire.”
A 1988 Adairsville High School graduate and a 1993 Georgia Tech graduate, Parker played long snapper and center on the Yellow Jackets’ 1990 national championship football team. He earned a master’s degree in administration and a specialists degree in curriculum from Lincoln Memorial University. He teaches world history and economics at Dalton High.
He takes command of a program that has made trips to the state playoffs in each of the past two seasons despite entering the region tournaments as a low seed — under Bob Brotherton in 2011 and last season under McKinney, who was an assistant prior to taking over last year.
“I’m very good friends with coach Brotherton and also coach McKinney,” Parker said. “I know a little bit about the history of the program and got as much info as I could from them. ... It feels like a natural fit. I’m very excited to take over.”
McKinney, who also is the school’s girls basketball coach, took over the softball program last July after Brotherton resigned to take an administrative job with Whitfield County Schools. McKinney resigned last month, and Ward said the entire hiring process took “about three weeks.”
“Jeff could’ve had the job as long as he wanted it,” Ward said. “When he made the commitment (last fall), he knew he would commit for that year at least. He said, ‘I’ll have to re-evaluate at the end of the year if I want to keep doing it as well as coaching basketball.’”
Parker’s new role could cause changes to the football program’s coaching staff. He did not say whether he would return for the 2013 season, but was sure it would not be in a similar capacity.
“I do a lot of things on the academic side with our football program,” Parker said. “Me and (head coach Matt Land) have been talking about it. I know I won’t be on the field every day.”