The old adage, â€˜You can always go home,â€™ proved true for ousted West Lincoln coach Butch Parker. At the age of 50, Parker will return to Maiden High School today, taking a position as testing coordinator.
It was hardly a surprise that Parker would turn to his roots, when considering he spent 14 years as a Blue Devil. What is surprising, is him leaving West Lincoln in the middle of the year, as conventional wisdom would say it takes some high schools a summer to find a place for a teacher.
So how did Parkerâ€™s homecoming come about?
â€œDwayne Finger told me if I ever needed a job to get in touch with him,â€ Parker said.
The ironic twist was it was Finger, Maidenâ€™s Principal, who actually contacted the 49-year old Parker. Finger read of Parkerâ€™s firing and contacted Butch at West Lincoln the day after.
Finger, Jeff Price (assistant principal), Pat Hensley (Associate Superintendent of Catawba County Schools) and Tom Brown collaborated on re-hiring Parker. The last day (Thursday) before Christmas break, Finger contacted him at West.
â€œItâ€™s a done deal. Welcome back to Maiden,â€ Finger announced.
What was Parkerâ€™s reaction?
â€œI gave it some thought; I didnâ€™t just say yes immediately. At the time, my intention was to work next semester at West Lincoln High Schoolâ€¦ but when this opportunity presented itself I had to make a decision and I made it,â€ Parker said, who turned in his resignation that afternoon to Principal Mitch Sherrill.
There were several factors that played into Parkerâ€™s decision.
â€œNo. 1, to come back to where I had been, when you throw in the fact Maiden is going to the Catawba Valley Athletic Conferenceâ€”thatâ€™s just going to be a great athletic conference and that this is going to be the last year of Maidenâ€™s high school stadium and me being a nostalgic person wanted to be a part of that,â€ he said.
While all those factors played a role, none was as big as the chance to rejoin Tom Brownâ€™s Blue Devilsâ€™ football staff.
â€œThe overriding factor was to able to work with Coach Brown again. It was a joy and a pleasure to be able to do that. That was the major factor in the whole decision. He told me he wanted me back.â€
Parker will coach the defensive line under Brown, who is a coaching legend in the state of North Carolina.
Despite the coach returning to his old stomping ground; he will always remember the three years spent at West Lincoln.
â€œI wish West Lincoln High School and football the very best. I have a big place in my heart for a bunch of good folks and several young men Iâ€™ve become very close to. You donâ€™t invest three years of your life in something and not leave with some awfully good feelings,â€ he said.
With Parkerâ€™s three-year stint in the rear-view mirror of his mind, heâ€™s thrilled to return to Maiden.
â€œItâ€™s certainly going to be a sense of excitement for me. I donâ€™t know how to tell you. Iâ€™m thrilled to be back there. I have a lot of good friends that are still down there and it will be a good thing,â€ he said.
Having been on the staff when Antoine Ikard, who at one time held the NC rushing record, and Chris Ramseur toted the pigskin, Parker believes junior-to-be Tommy Henry may be the best ever.
â€œHe may be the best one to ever come through Maiden High School. Heâ€™s on pace to possibly break the rushing record. He is a special player,â€ he said.
by John Mark Brooks