Parnham adjusts to role as head coach
VIDALIA — Meet the new boss. Not quite the same as the old boss, but he certainly takes after the old boss.
Gary Parnham Jr. has only been on the job for just under two months, but he’s gaining a new understanding of just how much work his mentor, Dee Faircloth, put into the job of Vikings head coach.
“Faircloth would always take me aside and tell me things like, ‘This is how you do this,’ or, ‘This should be done that way,’” Parnham said. “Getting into this job, I didn’t realize what all he did, just how much work he put in. A lot of the stuff that goes with the job, lots of paperwork… there’s just a lot of busywork.
“Thankfully, I have a great group of assistants that do a great job helping me. They want to learn — they’re always going to any coaching clinic they can, wanting to try and get better.”
But even if he is in the process of learning all the ins and outs of being a head football coach, it’s an experience he’s confident he’s ready for, Parnham said.
“I definitely feel like I’m ready,” he said. “I attribute that back to working with Faircloth for 16 years. I’m going to give it 100 percent and will definitely make it happen.”
Faircloth coached Parnham as a player from 1984 to 1987, and said he wasn’t surprised at the choice of Parnham to replace him after he retired.
“He’s one of my young-uns,” Faircloth said. “I coached him for four years, and he’s been an assistant for 16 years, so I think he’ll do a good job.
“I always figured he’d be a good coach. I was his assistant in softball, so I knew he’d do well. He’s definitely head coaching material.”
Even though he has some pretty big shoes to fill, Parnham said he feels like he has not just the school’s support, but the community’s.
“I think everyone loved Faircloth, and he did a great job, but people are going to retire,” Parnham said. “I feel like the whole school is behind me, and will give me an opportunity to do my best. I also have people from the community always asking me how they could help.”
And Parnham said he wants the team to turn around and contribute to the community during his tenure.
“I want everything to do result in success on the football field first of all, but also reflect upon the entire Vidalia community well,” he said.
Faircloth said there’s an inherent advantage that comes with being around the program for so many years like Parnham has.
“He’s seen the good and the bad times, and he’s been around long enough to where I know he’ll do fine,” Faircloth said.
“The biggest challenge for him will be appropriating time, because there’s a lot that goes into coaching — especially since everything falls back to you.”
But for Parnham, he ultimately just wants his players to have a fulfilling experience, he said.
“We just have great kids here,” Parnham said. “That’s why Faircloth always said he never left Vidalia, because we have such good kids. It makes me feel good when they feel good.”