By Chuck Reherman
Following in his father’s footsteps.
That’s what Matt Parent did by becoming a high school teacher and coach.
And. he is continuing those footsteps now. At the collegiate level.
Southwestern Christian University tabbed Matt Parent as head coach of its men’s and women’s track and field programs for the 2018-19 season.
Parent, the son of SCU Hall-of-Famer Paul Parent, becomes the fourth men’s track and field coach and second women’s coach in SCU history.
But, don’t worry. Parent is not leaving his head track and cross country coaching duties at Yukon. He is just adding to his already full plate.
“I’m not going any place, just adding a job on top of what I’m doing,” Parent said. “I’ll still be teaching English and coaching at Yukon. I may need some toothpicks for my eyelids, haha! But, it’s Dad’s program. It was one on those things that I felt I need to do it since it was dad’s program. I felt I have to do it, and do it right.
“SCU contacted me back in February,” he said. “I told them I’d think about it. Then again in March. My family said they were behind me, so here I am. I’ve been recruiting all spring, and they are allowing me a staff. I told them that I couldn’t do it alone if I’m still teaching/coaching at Yukon. That wasn’t a problem.”
The elder Parent started the program at SCU in 2004 and held the head coaching post until he passed away in 2016.
“There has been a lot of upheavel with an interim coach and the women’s coach took it last year, but he was ready to retire,” Parent said. “He was going to retire at the time my dad died, and felt he couldn’t, but he wants to spend time with his grandkids.
“SCU came to me and they are basically going to restructure things and asked me and I told them it needed to be done similar to the wat we do things at Yukon,” he added. “It doesn’t matter if you are male or female, we have individual coaches that concentrate on certain disciplines.
“With that said, there will be five of us that will coach at SCU, so being able to spread this out, it won’t be as big a deal,” he added. “With the way colleges and universities do things, they almost always run on the weekends and you rarely ever see a 6A or 5A school run on the weekends. So, the college team will practice after the high school and will be spread out. It can be done and done fairly easily, it will just be some wear and tear on me and the coaches with recruiting and things outside of coaching.”
Parent recruited former YHS coach Bill Cerny to come out of retirement to help coach middle distance and distance and former YHS coach Clay Bedell will work with the pole vaulters.
Parent also has YHS coach Kevin Ritter to work with the high jumpers and hurdles. Stefan Johnson will coach the sprinters.
“We have it all covered,” Parent said. “It will be a lot to learn, but it does help being a high school coach with recruiting.
“Had this been another college, I would have had to decline and since my dad was basically their first coach, there was a little bit of heart in it. But, I know I can get it done. It won’t affect what I do here at Yukon and I will have the time to spend with my family. It will be a lot, but I can get it done.”
Parent has been head coach for boy’s cross country and track and field since 2003. He began his tenure at YHS in 1997 as an assistant football and track coach as well as a junior/senior English teacher.
Since 2003, YHS athletes have set 14 school records in cross country and track and field as well as one Oklahoma-state record and one national record under the guidance of Parent.
Parent has led his Miller teams to five regional runner-up finishes and one regional championship in track and field.
Parent has coached three state-champion throwers along with two runners-up and 14 throwers who placed in their respective events at the state-championship meet.
In 2018, Parent was named Class-6A Region 1 Track and Field Coach of the Year.
In cross country, Parent has helped the Millers qualify for 13 state-championship meets, including 11 in a row. Yukon had only reached one state meet in school history prior to 2003.
By Chuck Reherman