Tonganoxie volleyball coach sets game plan
When newly hired Chieftain volleyball coach Tiffany Parker leads the team into battle next season, she will be the fourth coach in as many years to take the Tonganoxie sidelines.
But she brings with her years of experience as both a player and coach, experience that she and the school's administration believe will set her apart from the crowd and help Tonganoxie build a solid volleyball tradition.
Following her hiring at the March 12 Tonganoxie school board meeting, Superintendent Richard Erickson said just that.
"I'm very excited for her to get started right away," he said. "I'm sure she'll work hard to establish the program."
Parker said that she knows what it takes to do that. After all, she comes from a coaching family. Her father has been a high school coach in the Chicago area for more than 20 years. She also has two brothers who coach.
"I've seen what it takes to build a winning program, and it's going to take two or three years of hard work for that to happen," she said.
But Parker is ready.
She first moved to the area in 1993, when she began classes at the University of Kansas. That year she was a red-shirt for the team.
She played for the Jayhawks for the next four years, and graduated in 1998 with a degree in sports management.
But the 26-year-old Clifton, Ill., native did not move back home to the Chicago area after graduation.
Instead she took a job as an assistant volleyball coach at Lawrence High School a position she held for three years.
Parker won't teach classes at Tonganoxie schools next season because she doesn't have a teaching license, but she is far from idle.
Between December and April, Parker runs the regional Juniors Volleyball program. The juniors program is an off-season league for girls 15- to 17-years old who are serious about the sport.
This program was how Parker learned about the job at Tonganoxie.
Former Tonganoxie coach Chris Herron coaches one of the teams in the juniors program, and he told her that the school was looking for a solid, stable coach to help re-build Tonganoxie's program.
But the school didn't take the first person that walked through the door. Parker said that school administrators went through her resume with a fine-tooth comb to make sure they got the right person for the job.
"I know they were very thorough," she said. "The administration was very adamant about turning the program around."
She said her experience and the fact that she has made a firm commitment to the sport in the area had made her a strong candidate for the job.
Though her career is skyrocketing after earning her first head coaching job three years following graduation, she said that Tong-anoxie was not just a stop on her way to a better job. She said she made a commitment to the program when she took the position.
"I don't see this as a stepping stone to bigger and better things," she said. "I'd like to be around for awhile."
She said she hoped to make this a special season for next year's seniors, who will see their fourth coach in four years.
"I know they've had quite a few coaches over the years," she said. "I want to come in and give them a very positive experience."
She said one of the first things she wanted to do with next year's seniors is to teach things about being team leaders, both on and off the court.
Parker has yet to meet with the team as she's right in the middle of the juniors program's season, but she said that she plans to meet team players within the next couple of weeks.
"We need to start building relationships early, that way the girls know what to expect from me and I know what to expect from them," she said. "If we wait until the summer to do that, it will be too late."