Burnet High School offensive line coach Eddy Parker demonstrates the proper way to perform a deadlift at the Burnet High School fieldhouse weight room for Grant Jones and Luke Hudgins (right) as his wife, Lacy Parker, a girls basketball and track coach, looks on. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro
STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
BURNET — Even as he sat down to pour glasses of chocolate milk for Burnet student-athletes after a morning of strength-and-conditioning workouts, it’s hard to miss Eddy Parker.
At 6 feet 4 inches and 290 pounds, “Big Eddy,” the Bulldogs’ new offensive line coach, still looks like he could play the position.
A former Burnet football player, Parker is a familiar face for many in the community. After all, he was a fixture on both the offensive and defensive lines in 2002 when the Bulldogs made their second appearance in the Class 3A state title game. Burnet also reached the finals in 1991 and 2003.
“The 2002 football team is special,” he said. “It’s like no other. The bond you form with your team is special. You don’t get that anywhere else. I tell players not to take it for granted. I still think about them when I come to this field.”
Parker said when he and wife Lacy, who attended Burnet from 2002-04, saw coaching openings at the school, they immediately applied. Lacy Parker will be a girls basketball and track coach.
“It was just a feeling I got,” Eddy said. “Burnet is a special place. The kids are special. I want to give back to the community like it did me.”
As a senior in high school, he committed to play football at Georgia Tech University months before he graduated in 2003 and stayed true to his word, even when Texas Tech University and other colleges closer to home came calling. When he left for Atlanta, it was the first time he’d ever been far from home, which created a void in his heart, he said.
A business management major, Parker played for two years and left the last two years of eligibility unused because of a knee injury. Doctors advised him to give up the game.
“It was a tough decision,” he said. “It took a lot of thought and prayer. They said it would be a smart decision to get out of it.”
After taking a non-playing scholarship and entering the McCoy’s Management Program for McCoy’s Building Supply at Georgia Tech, he stayed close to the football team, even running errands. After graduating in December 2007, Eddy couldn’t see himself sitting behind a desk.
“Football has been such a big part of my life,” he said. “Without it, I felt lost. I want to teach kids the game and show my passion for football.”
In 2008, he got a call from his old Burnet offensive line coach, Ted Wilmann, who offered him a coaching spot at Odessa Permian High School in West Texas.
When he returned to the state, he and Lacy reconnected and eventually married.
“We dated from 2002 to 2006 and took a break,” he said. “When I moved to Odessa, the spark came back.”
Lacy was at Tarleton State University in Stephenville but transferred to a school closer to Eddy when he started his job in Odessa. She followed Eddy to Southeast Texas after he took a job at Port Neches-Groves High School, finishing her education at Lamar University in Beaumont.
The couple settled in the Port Neches and Groves area for three years, then worked together as coaches at Mabank, Crandill, and Big Spring high schools before returning to Burnet.
Eddy said he has learned a lot of patience working with children. As the two coached their young athletes, they realized a fundamental truth.
“The key is to build a relationship with that kid to get him to run through a brick wall for you,” Eddy said.
Teaching the proper technique to Burnet’s offensive linemen is a top priority for Parker, who noted many undersized athletes play big-time college football because they have sound fundamentals, footwork, and technique.
The goal is to have five offensive linemen who are selfless. He’s reminds his players that people don’t usually say “good block” when a play works.
“I tell them there’s only two people in the world who love them: their mamas and their offensive line coach,” he said with a grin. “It’s the ultimate team game. The lessons you have through football translates into life. They are most important.”
Like her husband, Lacy believes sports teach life lessons, and being good role models for the kids is part of that.
“It’s been fun for us,” Lacy said. “Your list of adopted children gets long.”
Though she only attended a couple of years of school in Burnet, the community holds a special place in her heart. Since returning, she has been able to reconnect with old friends and strengthen other bonds.
“Anytime you can be in a place that has tradition, it’s cool,” she said. “I’ve been at places that have a lot of tradition. They battle longer through adversity. They handle the pressure that comes with it.”
“For me, it’s where I was raised,” he said. “There are good people, people I want to raise my daughter around.”
Eddy and Lacy have a 3-year-old daughter, Payslee.
He looks forward to coaching the linemen, particularly senior Vann Ellett, the son of Burnet High School agriculture teacher Joe Ellett, who was one of Eddy’s favorite teachers.
“I grew up in the ag program with his daddy,” Eddy said. “I get to coach Vann like his dad coached me in the ag program.”
The Burnet football team begins the 2017 season against Austin Reagan at Nelson Field, 7105 Berkman Drive in Austin, at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 31.