Vikings hire Parnham

Published 12:21 am Friday, March 12, 2010

VIDALIA — Vidalia High School found itself in unfamiliar territory over the winter.

When Vikings football coach Dee Faircloth announced his retirement in December, Vidalia administrators were tasked with conducting a coaching search for the first time in 42 years.

Now, the wait is over, as Vikings assistant coach Gary Parnham Jr. was announced as Faircloth’s replacement Thursday at the Concordia Parish School Board meeting. Parnham said the fact that it’s the first coaching hire for Vidalia in over four decades speaks highly of the man he’s replacing.

“That says a lot for the school and Coach Faircloth, for him to remain here that long,” Parnham said. “I’m sure he had opportunities to move on, but he chose to stay.”

Parnham said he was told of school’s decision to give him the job last week, but held off on announcing it, since it first had to be approved by the school board.

“(Vidalia Principal Rick) Brown called me into his office and said that the committee conducting the search would recommend me to the board,” Parnham said.

“I felt like it was a fair process. Even if I didn’t get the job, I would have been satisfied that it was fair.”

Familiarity is what Parnham brings to the table, and he said he’s happy to coach a group of athletes that have such good character.

“I grew up here. It’s my home. Coach Faircloth instilled a lot of coaching traits in me. We have great kids here in Vidalia that I would stack up against anyone from anywhere. I’m looking forward to getting started and hitting the ground running.”

The football program has been down by Vidalia standards, having missed the playoffs four straight years. However, Parnham said he’s not going to dwell on the negative.

“All I can do is put these kids in the best position to win,” Parnham said. “I want to build enthusiasm back with these kids and get them wanting to play football.

“We have a great basketball program, and there’s a lot of excitement surrounding it. That’s what we have to have with the football team.”

Coaching in Faircloth’s shadow is something Parnham said would be challenging, but he hopes to have the same kind of impact on players that Faircloth did.

“It’s a very big challenge. He set the bar way high. I think when you look at the numbers he averaged 10 wins a year. But it’s not just about wins. He set the bar high by taking those kids and helping mold them into the people they’ll be later in life.

“You won’t meet a former athlete (of his) who won’t come back to see him. It’s about teaching kids, and he set the bar really high. All we can do is shoot for it.”

And with Faircloth living just minutes away from the school, Parnham said he would be using his mentor as a resource.

“I’ve already been there over 100 times since he retired,” he said. “He’ll have his door open. I’ll definitely be using him for advice. Forty-two years in the business, he’s seen it all.”

Parnham said he wasn’t sure if the school would retain the rest of the assistant coaches, but added that he felt “most would probably be back.”