With the dog days of summer slowly setting behind us, the best season of all is finally upon us…football season! We kick off our 2017 Yurview football schedule with a 5A match-up between the Mesa Mountain View Toros and Surprise Valley Vista Monsoon.
These two teams squared off in the season opener last year with Mountain View coming away with a 43-21 victory, but the night belonged to former Toros coaching legend Jesse Parker. At halftime of that game, a ceremony was held to name Mountain View’s field in Parker’s honor. On July 21st, almost 11 months after taking the field that will forever bear his name, the 77 year old Parker passed away due to complications from cancer. The Toros have dedicated this season to the patriarch of the program.
Parker was known for his tough, disciplined, no nonsense approach. He was a taskmaster who would get his message across to players by grabbing their facemask or giving them a steely glare. For Parker, the message was about more than just football, it was about life lessons and helping shape his player into becoming upstanding young men.
“Coach Parker changed lives. When you played for Coach Parker your life was never the same. He is a legend.” said David Luders, a member of the 1978 Mountain View state championship team. “Coach Parker had this aura about him that made you want to dig as deep as you could and put every ounce of energy and talent out of yourself to succeed. He was just a motivator of young men.” said Steve Frost, a member of Mountain View’s 1983 state title team.
The night Parker had Mountain View’s field named after him he told me “I did the very best that I could to get them to believe more in themselves. I started at the school with the idea you as a player can do more than you think you can and then proceeded to challenge them.”
Parker earned the respect of his peers as well, including another Arizona high school coaching legend Karl Kiefer. Kiefer’s McClintock Chargers teams were constant contenders for state titles during the 1970’s and ‘80’s along with Parker’s Toros. “Jesse was a legend. Before the game Jesse didn’t want to shake hands lots of times and I respected that because I really didn’t want to either. Our players and everybody really respected the Mountain View program. We loved to play him and they loved to play us.”
Parker’s success on the field earned him a place in the National High School Coaches Hall of Fame, and Parker’s contributions off the field were immeasurable. At Mountain View, he also started up the Advanced Placement program teaching History. Just as he did on the field, Parker demanded the best in the classroom. He said “Over the years we became the best school in Arizona and that meant everything to me, because academically and athletically that’s what I was striving for.”
Jesse Parker accomplished those goals and left an indelible impact not only on the field, but in the classroom as well. Jesse Parker was a man who truly made a difference.