Jesse Parker, Legendary Local High-School Football Coach, Named to National Hall of Fame

Categories: Sports

We won't ever forget Jesse Parker, one of Arizona's greatest all-time high-school football coaches, with whom we spent a memorable season a long time ago for a pre-Internet story called "Tough Coach."

Coach Jesse Parker.jpg
Coach Jesse Parker -- a very tough guy.
​The year was 1988, and Parker's Mesa Mountain View Toros were, as usual, one of the best big schools in the state of Arizona. (Wish we could link this piece, which ended up in a Sporting News book anthology, but our web archives only go back to about 1990).

Parker allowed us into his locker room--a rather frightening place at times -- and into his much-more-comfortable home for an up-close-and-personal look at a complicated man and his controversial program.
We came to admire and respect Coach Parker, as much for his hardscrabble back story, the tale of an old-school guy raised in rural Ada, Oklahoma, as anything else. 

Parker retired as a coach a few years ago (his last head coaching job was a successful stint at Gilbert High), finishing with several state titles and the second-most wins (309) of any Arizona high-school football coach.

But we will remember him as much for his excellence in the classroom as for his ability to get the most out of his usually undersized football players. Parker taught Advanced Placement history classes at Mountain View, and he was an absolutely riveting instructor -- truly memorable.

Yes, the guy was a miserable loser (just about the worst we've seen), and his players made sure that didn't happen too often. Fear does funny things to kids.

In a few days, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Coach Parker will be inducted into the National High School Coach Hall of Fame. The ceremony will be held at the National High School Athletic Coaches Association annual meeting.

From our perspective, this a well-deserved accolade, and we are happy for the coach and his wonderful wife, Latsy.

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I used watch this man whip kids with a wooden board for the slightest pretext in the weight room. I view him as a byproduct of 1950s, old mentality that the best method is to beat them into shape and one method fits all. He was at my former high school for about five years and the team lost most of the time- I believe because too many people with potential did not want to play for him. He resigned after a parent raised a stink when ole Parker him their son with a stick and marked him up. Soon as this guy left, Texas High started wining games and got close to state finals in 4A.

Stuart R Taylor
Stuart R Taylor

Coach Parker was the greatest influence I had in my high school years at Mountain View.  I still apply the things I learned on the football field to the larger issues of life.  This is a well-deserved honor, and am very happy for him.


I owe this man everything. Coach Parker truley changed me into being the best I could be and teaching me that no matter how tough things get to never give up

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