Lumpkin County announced that Michael Parker would be taking over the boys basketball program after the retirement of legendary coach, Jeff Steele.
Parker becomes the fourth head coach for Lumpkin County boys basketball since the 2009-10 season, following coach Bobby Smith (’09-11), Chris Guthrie (’11-15), and Steele (’15-’20).
Parker, who has coached in high school basketball since 2003 under Steele (at both Lumpkin and Johnson), Geoffrey Pierce at Grayson, and Chad Pittman at Dawson over 17 seasons, is no stranger to the area or the game.
“Obviously when you’ve been an assistant as long as I have, and you get that opportunity to take the helm, it’s an exciting time,” says Parker. “One thing that excites me about Lumpkin County is the fact that this is where I call “home”. I have lived in Lumpkin now for the past 3 ½ years. So to get the opportunity to build something special in a place that you call “home” is an exciting opportunity. I think the Lumpkin community is hungry for a consistent winning program.”
Parker notes that the Indians will return some key seniors that will help lead on the court and help set up the culture and expectations. Simultaneously, the pipeline for the future looks bright too.
Perhaps most important is the type of coach Lumpkin is getting…or in this case continuing in the shoes of Steele.
“I have been very fortunate to coach some great young men over the years, and they have helped me become a better person and better coach,” states Parker. “I am incredibly competitive and want to win every time we step between the lines, however the greatest victories are not always on the scoreboard. The relationships that I have built over the years is what matters most to me. You can measure success in a variety of ways. Two years ago at Dawson we went to the Final Four, and it was an amazing ride with some incredible kids. Such a fun ride with those guys. Then this past year at Lumpkin, we won eight games, but it was one of the most rewarding seasons of my career. Our kids fought through adversity and never complained or made excuses. They kept showing up and working. Despite only winning eight, we beat two teams that went to the Elite 8 (Banks, Monroe Area), and nearly knocked off rival Dawson at their place. The way our kids responded to adversity, and kept fighting, showed me a lot about the types of husbands, fathers, and men they will be. This is what I am after. Molding boys into men through the game of basketball.”
While the state, country, and world are fighting through a pandemic, this news is more than welcome for the Lumpkin community.
“With COVID-19 wreaking havoc, this is new territory for all of us,” says Parker. “Spring workouts are cancelled, and summer ball is in question. We may not be able to do anything on the court as a “team” until the first practice in late October. So this time has to be used for individual development. My message to my guys is two-fold: On a personal level, take this time and develop deeper relationships with your family. Cherish this time together with your family and loved ones. Make the most of it! On the basketball front, it is really simple… whenever we come out on the other side of this, there will be a clear distinction between the athletes who were committed to getting better during this time at home, and the ones who laid around and did nothing for months. This time will separate those two groups of people more than ever. The self-driven, hungry, and disciplined athletes will thrive next season. Be that guy!”