The following is “but a small tribute to a man who has impacted hundreds of high-school athletes in northeastern New York,” submitted by one of his former athletes. If you have a coach or mentor you’d like to honor, email email@example.com.
“A man likened to ‘God,’ Mr. Bill Parks recently wrapped up his final ski season as head coach at Glens Falls High School in Glens Falls, N.Y., after serving the school for three-and-a-half decades. With two grandchildren now in the mix of things, he will move from being a coach to a self-named ‘child-care specialist.’ He will be greatly missed from the Section 2 arena, but I believe we can all agree that being coached by Mr. Parks was a pleasure and privilege, and moments he spent inspiring us will not soon be forgotten.
When I was in ninth grade at a cross-country running race, a man I knew by reputation alone came over to me and introduced himself. After going through some pleasantries about how my race went, he asked if I did a winter sport. I proudly told him I played hockey and basketball. Nodding his head, with a slight look of disappointment, he told me to come see him if those sports didn’t work out, that he was the Nordic ski coach and would love to have me on his team. I politely replied that I would do that, without the intention of that ever happening.
But as it turned out, a few weeks later I ended up in classroom 102, the designated meeting place of the Nordic ski team. Feeling more than a little out of place, I piled into an old, red 12-passenger van with the rest of the skiers. We traveled the short distance to the local bike path, a 12-mile stretch of pavement that I would end up spending hundreds of hours of my life rollerskiing on over the next few years. And so began my introduction not only to a new sport, but to a new way of life, new friends and new opportunities.
My recruitment experience was no doubt similar to that of many other Glens Falls skiers, just as the love I developed for the sport is likely similar to other Glens Falls skiers.
Throughout my four years at Glens Falls High School, Mr. Parks taught me more about the sport of Nordic skiing and helped me to discover more about myself than another other singular person. Whether he was motivating me with words of encouragement, timeless jokes, or his defining whistle that would echo through the woods and instantly incite better technique, what I always knew to be true was that Parks was a coach that believed in his athletes, oftentimes more than they believed in themselves.
He would tell us that, “Dedication to improving your technique every practice is practice for real life” or “practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.”
Parks always expected the best out of each of us, from the most to least motivated athletes, and he had a way of dragging the best out of his athletes without us even realizing it was happening.
Whether he was motivating me with words of encouragement, timeless jokes, or his defining whistle that would echo through the woods and instantly incite better technique, what I always knew to be true was that Parks was a coach that believed in his athletes.
Parks continued to inspire success during the 2014/2015 season, what would be his last as head coach. Mr. Parks started with a group of forty athletes due to his recruiting efforts at the middle-school level, not only did Parks manage to bring in numbers but he sent five athletes to the state meet this past season, with the Glens Falls women representing a third of the Section 2 team. The women were led by senior Mayr Sawyer, a member of the Section 2 bronze-medal relay team as well as the female recipient for Section 2 sportsmanship award at the state meet. All in all, a great note to end a career on.
About the author: Kate Mulcahy graduated from Glens Falls High School in 2011. Currently a senior at St. Lawrence University, she captained the Saints Ski Team her junior and senior seasons. She has a double major in English and Government as well as a minor in Peace Studies and will attend Vermont Law School after graduation.