The most exciting part of coaching the Peterborough Wolverines for seven seasons for John Parkes was watching players develop before moving on to play football at universities and colleges on both sides of the border.

In fact, at McMaster University – where he became recruitment co-ordinator on June 1 – the Marauder roster includes five former Wolverines.

“That’s the most rewarding part of me, seeing guys getting a chance to go to the next level,” he said Thursday during a barbecue held before a practice in advance of Saturday’s final game of the season for the senior varsity team.

It will be his final game after coaching the team for four years.

Reflecting, Parkes called the experience “absolutely awesome,” comparing his own growth to that of players he tutored from bantam through senior.

He has coached every level of football from tyke to university and the Wolverines feel like a part of his family, which includes his wife and their son and daughter.

Their son now plays for the University of Waterloo – which has created some interesting weekend plans – while their daughter attends Fleming College.

The Parkes moved to Peterborough in 2011 so his wife – a city native – could finish a degree at Trent University with plans to return to Niagara, but they decided to stay. They love the feeling of the smaller city.

“It really has that small-town feeling. That really appealed to us,” said the Etobicoke native. “It didn’t matter where you went, everyone seemed to know each other.”

After working as a commercial photographer for 17 years, Parkes decided to focus on coaching and got his first football job – a role he still holds today – as a National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP) learning facilitator.

Parkes credits good coaching for motivating him to take up the role and said it is just as important for coaches to sharpen their skills as it is for players. “If you’re not growing, you’re not able to help your players.”

It was a rockier season for the senior varsity team, which had a record of 1-6 going into Saturday’s season finale. But it was a big year for learning – key during any down campaign, Parkes pointed out.

When he coached the bantam squad in 2013 and 2014, it went to back-to-back provincial championships and students accepted NCAA offers afterwards. Parkes has also coached at Crestwood Secondary School for the past six years.

Football and lacrosse have always been his favourite sports. Football, in particular, offers connections unlike any other sport, he said, praising it for the sense of accountability it instills in its players as everyone must do their job.

“Everybody relies on everybody else … you are only as strong as the weakest guy,” he said, noting how that always pushes players to improve. “And that starts to bleed into other parts of their life.”

Parkes pointed how the barbecue – where there would be players’ awards and a roast of the coaches – personified that and the importance of helping others. “Football is community itself. It says ‘Let’s be involved and help each other.'”

In his new role, Parkes is responsible for player recruitment (outside of a blackout period), support, quality control and will also serve as an assistant coach. His replacement on the Wolverines has not yet been determined.

He will be in Hamilton for most of August and then split time between home and his home-away-from-home during the university football season, which runs from August to the first week of December.


Original Article By: Jason Bain
Publication: The Peterborough Examiner
Date: July 20, 2018
Photo By: Clifford Skarstedt – Examiner
Link to Original: