Huskies’ Parish receives national honor |

Huskies’ Parish receives national honor

Special to the Daily/Mark StevensonBattle Mountain coach Rob Parish encourages his runners at Phelan Field during track season.

EAGLE-VAIL – Battle Mountain cross country and track and field coach Rob Parish did not want this story written.That’s the sort of guy he is. He teaches science and he coaches kids in the fall and the spring.But that’s an oversimplification of Parish. People know better.The Positive Coaching Alliance, based out of Stanford in Palo Alto, Calif., named Parish as just one of 15 finalists from around the country for its National Youth Sports Awards.

The PCA emphasizes sportsmanship, positive coaching and life lessons to encourage participation in youth sports, instead of the obsessive achievement-driven goals that sometimes turn kids away from sports.”It’s actually pretty surprising,” Parish said. “I had no idea I’d been nominated for it.”I think it’s nice to get this (Positive Coaching Alliance) award because it’s not just for competitive success. Our team is so positive. That’s probably the best thing about our team. Everybody’s positive from the kids to the parents and it’s not just the top runners. Everybody works with everybody.”While Parish won’t toot his own horn, there are plenty of others willing to do so.”He totally deserves the award, to get that far on the process,” Huskies junior Erika Ghent said.

“He’s just an amazing coach who loves what he does. It pays off. He puts the love of the sport into all of his athletes and makes us want to be better and work that much harder.”Ghent is just one of Parish’s many pupils. She finished fourth in the 4A cross country state meet last fall, leading the Huskies’ girls team to a fifth-place finish. Both finishes were the best in the program’s history.”He’s been the greatest coach I’ve ever had,” Grant Stevenson said. “Aside from being there at the sporting events, he’s also there whenever you need him. He’s someone you can talk to no matter what’s going on. I would say he is the biggest reason we’ve had so much success this past year with cross country.”Stevenson should know. He was 40th on the boys’ side and the boys team also had a big day at state last fall finishing 11th. Both are school marks.

In 1999, the girls went to state and finished third at 3A. However, when the program moved up to 4A in 2000, it was in tatters.Parish, who ran both cross country and track at Carson High School in Carson City, Nev., and at Montana State, came to the Eagle County as a science teacher at Berry Creek Middle School.”I just know that when I started teaching that I wanted to stay involved in running and thought that I would coach,” he said. “I had no idea that I would be involved at this level.”

Parish joined the program in 2001. He, along with Kelli Witter and Ashley Weaver, went about the rebuilding process. After some lean years, the Huskies exploded on the state scene last fall as both teams qualified for the 4A meet for the first time in school history.”No. 1 is his connection with the kids,” Battle Mountain athletics director Fred Koetteritz said. “The guy’s come in and taken our cross country program from seven kids to 57 kids. I think that probably speaks volumes.

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“Kids want to be around him. He inspires them. He makes it fun. He works with all level of kids. He’s not only increased the numbers. He’s also taken the cross country program to its finest competitive performance in the history of the program.”

Parish’s work is certainly not done here. He’s been elevated to the school’s head track coach for this spring.Though he’s focusing on Phelan Field and the upcoming season, there’s also the cross country season in the fall. With all but one runner returning from last year’s fifth-place girls’ team, there will be high expectations next year.”This year’s track season looks like it’s going to be great,” Parish said. “If we get the kids we think are going to come out, we’re going to have huge numbers and great athletes. But the girls’ cross country team next year looks like they will be one of the major players in the state.”Sorry, Coach, but all of this means that you’ll like be getting some more press coming your way.Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 614 or, Colorado

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