Parkers named all-area coaches of year
Brandon and Tiffany Parker say they're working to find the right balancing act between married life at home and their responsibilities as co-coaches on the volleyball court.
This year, they came pretty darn close to uncovering the answer.
The duo, married seven years and coaches at Tonganoxie High the past four years, led the Chieftains to their most successful volleyball season in school history - a third-place finish at the Class 4A state tournament.
In doing so, the Parkers were named the Lawrence Journal-World's all-area volleyball coaches of the year.
"There is technically not a marriage class that involves a husband and wife coaching together," Brandon Parker said. "Both of us have to work very hard not to bring a bad practice or a bad match home with us. We have to have our own life outside of it. We haven't perfected it yet, but we try."
Tonganoxie finished the 2007 season with a record of 31-13, and the Chieftains' third-place triumph at state marked the farthest any female sports team had gone in the school's history.
Although the athletes and their natural abilities had a lot to do with that, Tiffany Parker explained how the advantage of having two head coaches during the season helped the Chieftains achieve such success.
"(Brandon's) stronger in certain areas, and I'm stronger in certain areas," she said. "It all works together to make a great whole. The kids are able to hear what they need to hear during a match."
In addition to an extra dose of coaching, Tonganoxie benefited from a roster that included eight seniors who were instrumental in helping the Chieftains make a late-season surge into and through the postseason.
Despite their success as coaches, the Parkers gave all the credit for the memorable season to the THS athletes.
"We've had kids that have played for us for three or four years, and they've experienced highs and lows," Brandon Parker said. "They're a team that was very mature and kept working to get better and better every week. That culminated with us playing our best come late October."
Tiffany Parker agreed.
"I enjoyed the kids we had on the team," she said. "Every day they came in, they worked hard. They were very driven. It was fun to be around those types of athletes."
THS nets two all-area selections
The Chieftains had two representatives - seniors Sami Franiuk and Tracie Hileman - named to the Lawrence Journal-World's all-area team.
Franiuk was selected to the All-Kaw Valley League first team and was also selected to the Class 4A state all-tournament team for the Chieftains, who finished in third place at state.
The 5-foot-10 THS senior finished the 2007 season with 325 kills, 225 digs, 72 aces and 71 blocks.
A three-year starter for the Chieftains, Hileman was selected to the All-Kaw Valley League first team as well as the Class 4A state all-tournament team.
The 5-foot-8 senior finished the year with 356 digs, 259 kills, 76 blocks and 46 aces.