OFC: Varsity Wolverines Parkes a true players’ bench boss

For close to 14 years, John Parkes has been paving the path for young football players to reach their goal of playing in the CIS, NCAA, or even the pros.

His first coaching adventure came in Niagara, where he coached minor football in the Niagara Region Minor Football Association (NRMFA). From there, he transitioned onto the Niagara Generals of the Central Ontario Minor Football League (COMFL). Then, upon his move to Peterborough, he began coaching the Peterborough Wolverines of the Ontario Football Conference (OFC). A year later, Parkes made his first appearance in the high school ranks, heading the Crestwood Mustangs of the Central Ontario Secondary Schools Association (COSSA).

The current Varsity Wolverines Head Coach gives us a bit of background into his coaching career.

“I had several coaches through out my life who helped me grow as a person and inspired me to want to coach,” he recalled. “I really became involved about fourteen years ago when a friend of mine and a fellow coach, Bobby Ford (A.N Myer Marauders) asked me if I would like to come out and help coach a minor football team in Niagara Falls (NRMFA). From that point forward I have been all in.”

Parkes is one of those coaches who expects and accepts no less than 100% from every one of his players.

“I’m always looking to get the most out of my players, both on and on the field. My players are expected to not only be committed players, but to also be good citizens,” he said. “Our players are held to a high standard. Honesty, respect, communication, accountability are what we strive for with our players. This is something we ask of them both on and off the field and hope they carry this philosophy into their every day lives.”

When asked what he enjoys most about being on the sideline, the veteran coach was quick to say that while seeing a team bond is special, having the chance to mould boys into men is what makes it so rewarding.

“The bond that players form with each other and their coaches is a great thing,” Parkes pointed out. “But having the opportunity to teach young men the game of football and several life lessons along the way has always been what has kept me coming back to coach.”

 

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Parkes expanded on the importance of player-coach relationships, something that he values immensely, regardless of where, who or at what level he is coaching.

“I think it’s very important that players know they have a coach who is looking out for them; someone who has their back at all times. At the Varsity level you have young men who are at a point in their life where they are looking to go off to University and play football,” elaborated the Wolverines head coach. “That said, this is not the path for every player, so as a coach it is up to us to help guide them and help them understand what options they have as they move forward in football and in life.”

Although no one memory sticks out to him, the second-year senior varsity head coach mentioned that spending quality time with fellow coaches is what he takes the most pleasure in.

“So many great moments over the years that have made coaching worth while. Personally, the time you get with your fellow coaches to help these young men grow and become better players is what I enjoy the most,” Parkes mentioned. “I have had the opportunity to work with many very knowledgeable coaches over the years who have helped me develop into the coach I am today.”

As important as player-coach relationships are to the success of a team, the entire coaching staff being on the same page is just as important.

“I am very lucky to have the coaching staff that I have. We are now in our second season together at the Sr. Varsity level and have only grown stronger as a coaching staff,” Parkes stated. “The better you know your staff the smoother things flow. You are in it together so you want to make sure you have a great line of communication with each other.”

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One of many lessons the longtime coach has learned that he now tries to instill in his players is that sometimes the lessons you learn along the way outweigh the results. However, his biggest goal, as is that of all coaches, is still to win football games.

“I guess I would say that life and football are a journey and it’s not always about the destination,” he expressed. “What we learn and achieve along the way is what makes us who we are at the end of it all. Don’t take this the wrong way; I still coach to win.”

Parkes has coached both rep and high school football in his lengthy career, and although there are some subtle differences to the game, he maintains the same coaching style and, as always, is devoted to the success of his players.

“I feel you find yourself adapting more when you change age groups than when you go from rep to high school,” he said. “At the rep level the expectations are much higher than with high school football, but my commitment remains the same no mater what league or level I coach at.”

He also has some important, but very simple, advice for anyone who aspires to make a career in coaching. This applies not just in football, but in all sports, and rings true irrespective of the level in which you coach.

“If you can’t commit 100 percent to your players, you can never expect them to give 100% back to you,” Parkes asserted. “Keep your expectations real and always go with your gut instinct.”

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Advocating for football prospects one story at a time.

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