Parpet added fourth sport to his resume

Girls varsity bowling coach has spent decades coaching football, baseball, basketball

Paul Parpet had been a high school coach for four decades before signing on as the varsity girls bowling head coach at Hinsdale Central almost nine years ago.

"This fall I just completed my 50th consecutive year of coaching high school football," Parpet said. "I'm proud of that. That's why I brag about it."

Parpet has logged 30 years as head football coach, 21 as head baseball coach and 30 as a freshman basketball coach. After he retired from teaching at Addison Trail High School in 2010, he coached at Downers North, Downers South, Lisle and Metea Valley (where his nephew John was head coach) before coming to Central in 2015.

"I have been busy," he said.

It's no surprise that he's continued to coach, since it has been a passion since he was a student at Morton West High School.

"We had study halls that we had to go to and there were 200 people in the study hall back then," he said. "I would practice signing my name for hall passes, because I wanted to teach and I wanted to coach."

After graduating from Western Michigan, where he played baseball on a scholarship, he was hired at St. Cyprian in River Grove, where he worked for two years until he was hired at Addison Trail. He eventually became department chair of physical education, health and drivers ed.

"I coached three sports my entire career except for four years, when I went to watch my son play baseball at Glenbard West," he said.

His coaching philosophy has evolved over the years, he said, noting his early focus on winning. He had an early taste of success when his Addison Trail football team played in the state championship game two years in a row.

"I thought that was me," he said. "It wasn't me - it was the players."

His student-athletes helped him realize there was more to high school sports than wins and losses. He recalled the 2004 football season at Addison Trail, when 37 varsity football players were suspended after a weekend house party. The team lost its next game 49-0 to Willowbrook.

Parpet said he asked one defensive back named Ryan Martin, who played every down on defense instead of sitting on the bench, what he thought of the game. He was taken aback by the response.

"Coach, that was the most fun I've ever had in my whole life," Parpet recalled him saying. "Right there it made me realize, for these kids, it's not about winning and losing. Three weeks later, everybody got to play.

"They don't care if they play for five plays - they played," he continued. "It's probably one of the best things that I've ever done, and that was because of Ryan Martin."

Parpet also believes it's critical to focus on fundamentals. Athletes need to progress, with the goal of becoming "unconsciously competent."

"If you have to concentrate and concentrate and concentrate all the time, that's not good," he said.

For his Red Devil Bowlers, that means not having to think about where to stand or what target to aim for. And that comes through hard work.

"Everybody is focused on the results and you can't always control the results, but you can control the process," he said.

Part of the process for some bowlers is simply learning the sport. While many football and baseball players start competing as young kids, Parpet sees a number of bowling newcomers on his squads.

"If you don't have bowlers in your family, it's not something that is done at a young age, especially in Hinsdale," he said. "In Hinsdale, when I first took over, we had some big bowling families. Now that's not the way it is."

Student-athletes also have other obligations. April Wu, his best bowler, is an accomplished violinist and second chair of the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra.

"She's doesn't have enough matches to make All Conference," he said. "She's 18 pins from making it to (state in) Rockford."

Parpet also has seen a decline in the number of girls on the team.

"I usually have a squad of anywhere from 15 to 18. This year, I've got nine," he said, noting other teams are seeing smaller rosters as well.

"We have to up our numbers," he said. "We're going to the junior highs, the feeder schools, and putting together some open nights at the bowling alley in the early fall."

Even with a smaller team, he's happy with the season.

"The bowling at Hinsdale this year has been good," he said. "We haven't won a lot of matches, but (last Wednesday) we bowled at Downers South and the girls competed really well. We had two girls who had high scores."

Central varsity girls track head coach Pat Richards is a longtime fan of Parpet.

"He is someone when I was a younger coach I looked up to," said Richards, who also coaches football. "He's passionate about coaching and well-rounded. It never surprises me to look up and see him coaching another sport. I'm not sure where he gets his strength from as he keeps going."

Assistant bowling coaches Jen Jaczak and Lauren Otahal also commented on Parpet's energy levels.

"His enthusiasm and love of coaching is something truly to be admired by aspiring coaches," they wrote in an email. "He creates an environment that is both competitive and fun to encourage the girls to make this a fun lifelong hobby/activity.

"We are lucky to have his coaching experience for our staff and bowlers alike."

Parpet spends his time away from coaching at the secretary of state's office in Naperville, where he works from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. five days a week.

"All I do is road tests because of my drivers ed background. I live two miles from there. It's a great job. There are a lot of nice people in this world," he said.

He has no regrets about dedicating his life to coaching.

"It has been a good choice, what I chose to do," he said, "because I really enjoy it."

Author Bio

Author photo

Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean