Keenan McCollom/Jeff Newman Legend of Matt Parker
Before the regular season started, Keenan and I took a class known as 6th period baseball, however, otherwise known to the student body as, Gardening 101. At Fallbrook High School, we had the nicest best maintained field in all of San Diego County. It was not because it was a new facility. It was not because we had a good landscaping crew. It was actually because the players worked on it for hours each day. Coach Parker, head coach of the varsity team from 2000-2007, had us spend at least 1 hour every day, raking, shoveling, watering, clipping, brushing, and weeding the field to perfection. This was not a normal perfect either. In his words, which Keenan remembered very clearly, Clean this place, not like its your house, but like its my house. I do not want a speck of anything, anywhere. And he was dead serious. Coach Parker was the toughest coach in all of San Diego County. He was emotionally draining and just unpleasant. He would put you down if you failed, and not allow for any mistakes. So, if anything out of line, you would be running until you could not stand any longer. We were all petrified of him as players. The amazing part was we were not the only ones who were scared of him. The entire male student body was. The stories that circulated of the things he did to us were brutal on the best of days. Everyone feared the name Matt Parker.
Coach Parker was our slave master. He owned our lives from the moment we arrived at school, till the day we left for summer. We have many memories of cleaning that field for hours on end. Four years of garden work does something to a kid. We werent sure exactly what it was but at least it did not kill us. The worst memory we have about cleaning the field were the taunts and insults that we received from the students passing us by. They knew we had no choice, but yet continued to make fun of us. It was known throughout all the 3000 kids in our student body that the baseball guys worked on that field for hours and hours. Looking back on the years we wasted on that field, all Keenan said to me was. Man, Parker was a douche bag. Albeit true, Parker believed that what he was making us do was character building He believed that this work improved our moral fiber and helped prepare us for the future. While he might have point, the things he made us do while we working were just nasty.
We knew what we were getting ourselves into when we signed up. Garden work for four months, and then we would get to play baseball. We all knew this, yet we all still signed up for the class. Playing ball was worth the hell we had to endure. At least we thought so. Keenan still remembers our sophomore year when Parker made us have a Weed-Picking competition. While this was okay in concept, the losing teams who picked the least amount of weeds in the time allotted would have to run miles around the track as punishment. Retrospectively, we cant do much but laugh, but I remember the hatred I felt toward Parker during these ridiculous schemes that he would concoct. We hated it, but anyone watching us must have had the time of their life. 25 kids scrambling for weeds and then the losers having to run; Parker must have had many nice nights at home chuckling at how brilliant he thought he must have been. Parker is no longer the coach, but his legacy as a slave driver will forever live on through the stories that we continue to keep alive.
The legend of Matt Parker changed when a life-altering event occurred the summer after our senior year. He was coaching a travel ball team in Arizona and he brought his wife and one year old daughter with him. His wife and daughter decided to get a head start on the return trip home to California. In a tragic car accident, Mrs. Parker and Kierah Parker were killed. The memories the baseball team had of Matt Parker the tyrant and dictator immediately took a backseat. Coach Parker was not the nicest man, but no one deserves this kind of punishment. Parker quit coaching after this and his legendary name with him. The only memories of his coaching days remain with his players. And we are the last ones who are able to continue to keep the legend of Matt Parker alive because no new stories will ever be created.
RIP: Kari and Kierah Parker
Naiman, Joe. “Car Wash Fundraiser Held for Parker Family.” Fallbrook/Bonsall Village News 26 July 2007, 30 ed., sec. 11.