Calling it a career

first_imgLITTLEROCK – Just about everything in the High Desert has changed since Lin Parker began his coaching career as an Antelope Valley High assistant in 1966. As the sparsely populated desert countryside has given way to new homes, restaurant chains, neon lights and booming growth, the stubbornly old-school Parker has remained one of the area’ few remaining constants. That link to the past is about to end. Parker, a direct descendent of some of the region’s earliest settlers in the late 19th century, concludes a 40-year coaching career and a three-year stint at Littlerock – the seventh high school for which he’s coached – when the Lobos play host Antelope Valley tonight at 7. The types of victories that are reflected on scoreboards and box scores have become scarce at Littlerock for various reasons, including lack of enrollment and discipline issues. Four players were taken off the team three weeks ago for non-football reasons. Last week, four others were declared academically ineligible. Littlerock (3-6 overall, 1-4 Golden League) ended a 16-game losing streak with a 9-7 victory over Boron in Week 2. The Lobos’ 50-3 rout of Knight on Oct. 28 was its first Golden League win since 2002. Parker, who has 165 career victories, has had to find wins teaching what he considers valuable life lessons. “When you don’t get a whole bunch of wins to hang your hat on, you’ve got to talk to them about how to behave and what it means to be a grown man and not just a teenage punk,” Parker said. Beneath a crusty exterior, by all accounts, is a coach. “People have this image of Parker as this gruff, old-time coach, and the truth is he does demand a lot of you, but he also gives a lot in return,” said Rosamond coach Kevin Rizer, an assistant under Parker at Highland who followed Parker to Rosamond in 2002. Said Littlerock senior tight end/defensive tackle Ryan Cambaliza: “He understands why we lose. It’s hard for him, it’s hard for everybody here, but he understands it.” Parker leaves a program at Littlerock he said has been his most enjoyable coaching experience, mostly because the players give what they’ve got knowing they’re unlikely to receive any tangible rewards for their efforts. “It’s certainly not the scenery,” he said, pointing to the barren hillsides that surround the campus. Parker won’t completely rule out a return to coaching. He’s attracted to the possibility of helping out a small school near the cabin he owns in Kernville, where he’ll pursue his favorite hobbies: hunting, fishing and baking bread. Baking bread? “It’s not something most coaches do,” Parker said. “I have this starter thing for sourdough my aunt gave me 40 years ago, and I’ve kept it going.” He hopes the players he’s reached out to over the years will do the same with some of the life lessons he’s tried to instill in them. “Hopefully, these kids will say when it’s all over Thursday night that it was a valuable experience for them,” he said, “and, whatever happens on the field, that they’re happy they got the chance to play.” Gideon Rubin, (818) 713-3607 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week Parker, who turned 62 Wednesday and is eligible for full retirement benefits, cited fatigue as a primary factor in leaving the only career he’s known. “I’m tired of driving home tired,” Parker said. “It wasn’t always like that. I used to have energy; I used to mow my lawn when I got home. Now my feet hurt when I get home.” Parker’s coaching accomplishments include being Caltech’s now-defunct program’s all-time winningest coach. He started Highland’s program, led it to league titles in 1996 and 1999 and a Southern Section Div. II semifinal appearance in 1996, but was unceremoniously dismissed in 2001 after 13 years at the school. He took over the Littlerock program in 2003 after a year at Rosamond. last_img