Jared Lankford: Kudos, whether he wants it or not

Wednesday, July 22, 2015
Jared Lankford

Each week during the football season, I write a preview of the coming Wildcat gridiron matchup.

I always make two phone calls, one to Lance Parnell and one to the opposing coach.

When the Wildcats played Lamar last season, the Tigers' coach, Scott Bailey, pumped me for Cassville information.

I read to him, verbatim, what Coach Parnell had said about the matchup.

Bailey laughed about its positive overtone and general lack of specifics, then said "Let me tell you about Lance Parnell."

Bailey explained to me that Parnell was an Arkansas boy. That he has this certain charm that would lull you into a false sense of security. He said Parnell would tell you that he didn't know how to contain Lamar, or that his players are still learning, but then blitz the daylights out of you on game night.

When it came to discussing his character, he said Parnell was the type of guy that would take you fishing or do anything in the world to help you six days of the week, but on Friday nights he wanted to beat you by 50.

Bailey then said, "You could say that I like Lance."

People ask me to assess and judge coaches' performances all the time.

Most times, they don't like my answers. You see, I have a simple two-point metric I use to judge coaches.

First, is the team better at the end of the season than the beginning, and second, is this person someone that will be a positive role model that I can

trust with my child.

Lance Parnell is a solid yes in both categories.

Two weeks ago, Lance led a group of 65 football players as they cleaned up the city park, school and area businesses that suffered from the recent flooding.

Lance said he'd prefer if I didn't cover the event, as he wasn't doing it for any type of publicity.

The lessons the players learned that day about priorities and giving back are what make Parnell and his coaching staff great leaders.

For Parnell and his team, it was not a matter of if they were going to find time to help the community, but how soon could they start giving back.

I waited until this week to write this column about Lance, mainly because he left Monday with the football team to go to William Jewell for summer camp.

I will probably get a private call or office visit from him for bringing the spotlight upon the head football coach, who prefers to put his players in the spotlight over himself.

At least I get a worry-free period this week.

However, Lance, his staff and his team deserve to be recognized for their selfless act. According to MSHSAA rules, since Parnell helped organize the event, it counted as one of his limited number of summer contact days.

When I asked him about losing a practice, his response told me everything I needed to know about his character.

"We don't care about losing a practice," he said. "This is home. We will never be able to give back everything this community has given to us. But today, we have the opportunity to give a little back and that is what we are going to do."

Jared Lankford is the sports editor of the Cassville Democrat. He can be reached at sports@cassville-democrat.com, or 417-235-3135.

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