As the former boys’ and girls’ soccer and tennis head coach at Thomas Stone High School, Tom Parker has been a trailblazer of the soccer program at the school and in the county for the past 47 years. He retired recently after being a well-loved coach among students, staff, and the Southern Maryland community.
Parker discovered his love for soccer at an early age influencing him to pursue the sport further by playing at Orange County Community College in New York and at Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania. After his studies he began working at Stone as a gym teacher and realized that there was no soccer team. “I went to the athletic director and said ‘Hey, I want to start soccer,’ and begrudgingly he agreed to let me start a team,” Parker said.
Parker was honored this month by Stone for his dedication to the school after one of the regular scheduled soccer games. Former players, staff and Parker’s family gathered to honor the coach for his hard work and longevity to the program.
His success as a coach was not inherited through a bloodline of coaches in his family, rather he started the trend of coaching among his community. “If you go to other schools in the county, you will find that a lot of people played for me,” Parker said. “Now my former players are running soccer groups and organizations.” The influence that Coach Parker has goes beyond Charles County. “I drove all the way to Anne Arundel County on a Saturday to see my granddaughter play and I heard someone say, ‘Coach Parker, Coach Parker.’ I turned around and it was my former player as the referee.”
In his role, Parker was known for his dedication to coaching by showing support to other sports and coaches as well. “During my first time as athletic director, Coach Parker was always here, never missing a day. He just showed tremendous dedication to the sport and the athletes,” Kevin Heider, athletic director at Stone, said. “While I was serving as a football coach, Coach Parker was always supportive and encouraging to the other coaches on the staff here at Stone.”
Over the years, Heider worked closely with Parker. “When I arrived here in 1996 Coach Parker was already an icon in the Southern Maryland coaching scene. He was about to win his first state championship, and his second two years later,” Heider said.
Seeing the results of his hard work over the course of the 47 years and the impact that he has made is what Parker is mostly proud of. “To revisit the past by opening the yearbooks and seeing the accomplishments made is one of the most rewarding parts of being a coach.” Parker saw a need, filled it and continued for decades. “When I needed a tennis coach back in 2001, Coach Parker did so happily, then continued for 21 years,” Heider said.
At Stone’s dedication to Parker, “Over 100 former players and coaches, some from as far back as 1982, were here to honor and thank Coach Parker for everything he had done for them, for Stone and the soccer community in Southern Maryland,” Heider said.
Charles County Public Schools provides 27,000 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 37 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.
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