The boys on the Earlsboro Wildcats basketball team will be under the direction of a new head coach next season.
A member of the 300-win club, Russell Parsons retired from coaching this off-season. Parsons eclipsed the the 300-win mark last season and has compiled a career record of 312-154.
“My wife [Katie] and I have been discussing the idea for a few years,” Parsons said. “When my daughter [Leva] was born that kind of expedited the decision.”
Looking back on his career, Parsons said his biggest accomplishment is the friendships he's developed with his players and fellow coaches.
His first coaching job came in the 1998-1999 school year in Cedar Hill, Texas, where he served as a freshman assistant coach. The next stop was Varnum for a stint as the softball and basketball coach and a one year at Locust Grove for one season before landing at Earlsboro.
Parsons came to Earlsboro for the 2008-09 school year and served as an assistant to coaching legend Jim Wahling for one season.
“I coached against Jim for several years when I was the head coach and we developed a great relationship,” Parsons said. “The year I spent as his assistant at Earlsboro was a great time.”
Stepping in as head coach at Earlsboro, Parsons said he felt less pressure than his previous stops.
“With a program as established as Earlsboro was, I wasn't having to search for that signature win,” he said. “I was fortunate enough to be handed a well established program.”
Looking back on his career at the helm of Wildcat basketball, Parsons is thankful for the support of the families and fans.
“The fans and parents are great,” Parsons said. “In 10 years, I've never had to have a parent meeting. I am forever thankful for the support of the community.”
Stacey Barton served as an assistant under Parsons for three years, and always admired the way he impacted his players on and off the court.
“He always cared about the player as a person and what they are going to be in life more than a basketball player,” Barton said. “Most coaches think they know it all but he was always wanting to learn more about the game.”
One thing Parsons prides himself on was he never let his emotions get the best of him during his coaching career.
“I think teams take on the persona of their coach and if you want your team to be under control and good decision makers, you can't spend the whole game screaming at them or the referee,” Parsons said. “I think if you yell all the time you can't get their attention. For me the biggest thing is expectation and holding the players accountable goes a long way.”
Along with a wife and young daughter, Parsons has two sons, Leighton, 8, and Landry, 6, who will all be thankful he's no longer coaching.
Next year, Parsons will serve as the Physical Education teacher at Grove School.