By Nick Snow
STILLWATER, Okla. —
The search for a new Stillwater High School girls soccer coach ended with a familiar name — Joey Parker.
A former Stillwater coach who has been an assistant under John Fields the past few seasons, Parker will once again take over the program after Fields relinquished those duties at the end of the season.
“Joey was the head coach here before several years ago, and he had a successful program when he was here,” Stillwater Athletic Director Tucker Barnard said. “He left Stillwater but then came back, and when he came back he stepped into an assistant role. He’s been a great, loyal, faithful assistant for several years now. I think the key has been the kind of person Joey is — he’s a great guy and somebody that we can all be proud to have coaching our kids. He has a passion for winning here in Stillwater. It’s something he’s committed himself to for a long time and now as he takes over the head coach role, he’s going to have an even greater impact on that again.”
Parker was largely credited for Stillwater’s turnaround in the early 2000s — taking the Lady Pioneers from the basement to a contender before handing the reins over to Fields.
Now he’ll be asked to do it again in his second tour of duty.
“We know what we’re getting with Joey,” Barnard said. “He’s a known quantity and he’s something that we’re really proud of. He does a great job with the girls now. They really like him, they play hard for him and they appreciate the way he approaches them and approaches the game. I think it’s a great move. It was almost a no-brainer hire for us.”
Even shortly after announcing his resignation as soccer coach, Fields praised Parker as the best fit for Stillwater’s program.
“I think he’ll do a fine job,” Fields said in June. “He’s been a great assistant for many years and I think he’ll fit right in.”
Perhaps the biggest advantage to having Parker take over is the fact that not much will change under the new regime. Parker already knows the team’s strengths and it’s weaknesses and has a plan in mind on how to use them to Stillwater’s advantage.
Also making the transition easier? Just the fact that Parker already has a rapport with so many members of the team.
“It’s going to be really good,” Barnard said. “There were a lot of girls in the program that really were hoping that he would be the one to get this position. Maybe they were even borderline on whether or not they would even continue playing with somebody else as the coach just because of the way they feel about him. We were really excited to get him to accept the position.
“It was a great burden lifted, for sure. We spent a lot of time on that. We’ve known about this opening for quite some time and we’ve spent a lot of time waiting and making sure that we had all the right pieces in place and it turned out great for everybody.”
Even with the spring season still six months away, Parker isn’t going to rest any time soon. He knows coming in that expectations are high — especially after the Lady Pioneers just missed out on the playoffs the last two seasons.
“It was really important in my mind to give them a chance to work with him during the preseason period and to have their players ready to go,” Barnard said. “We know that Joey will do that for certain.”