Many may not think of baseball when they think of Harley Parson.
His name over the years is often associated with football and softball and for good reason. Parson (not to be confused with his son Harley “Trey” Parson, who is also a coach at Patterson High) has been involved coaching predominantly at junior varsity and at times the varsity level in football since he joined the Patterson High program in 1988.
Parson has also been long-tenured as the junior varsity softball coach since he assumed the responsibility in 1995.
But before he did so, Parson assisted then-varsity baseball head coach Dave Klein from 1989-90. From 1991-94 the junior varsity baseball team was under his tutelage, until he transferred over to softball when Klein transitioned to his new coaching position.
This is not to mention the various years Parson taught baseball at the youth level (this scribe may or may not have been one of those youngsters at some point).
After a long hiatus from coaching baseball at PHS, Parson is back at the helm as skipper for the Tigers. Many of his own players may not know him as a baseball coach, but they soon will.
“It means a lot to me to get back with the boys because a lot of these kids don’t know me as the baseball coach, but some of their parents do,” Parson said via email.
When former varsity baseball head coach Michael Parker left the post following last spring’s campaign, Parson threw his hat in the ring. It was a decision that he had been mulling over for quite some time.
“The last few years of softball I have been thinking about leaving. I talked with Mr. Cozart, and Mr. Parker about making the change from softball to baseball. I started with baseball in the late 80s. I’ve done as much as I can at softball at the JV level, and I just wanted to challenge myself,” Parson said.
Athletic director Rob Cozart shared Parson was quick to seize on the opportunity to return to baseball. Cozart said it’s not just his coaching ability, but his interest to see his student-athletes succeed on and off the field that made him a fit to assume the reins this spring.
“With the resignation of Michael Parker last spring, Harley expressed interest and applied for the opening right away,” Cozart said. “Harley brings a very unique sense of tradition and work ethic to the athletic programs that he is involved with, and this has a great impact on our student-athletes. Even as a walk-on coach, he is very concerned with the student-athletes’ behavior/academic success in the classroom just as much as on the field.”
Parson will take over the program at an interesting time for the squad. After a 10-17 finish in their final year of the Western Athletic Conference last year, the Tigers will journey into their first year playing in the newly formed Central California Conference.
With a new coach and a fresh landscape, the Tigers will have their work cut out for them these next couple months. Parson shared he has aspirations to build from the ground up. Not just in terms of working on fundamental skills, but also elevating the profile and structure of the program itself.
“A main goal of mine is to build community support like how football has. The first step is that we started a non profit called “Diamond Club”. With their support, I plan on having more clinics for youth, and movie nights at the field,” Parson said. “My goals are to be disciplined, fundamentally sound, to work hard, to be mentally and physically stronger than the other schools in the league. Going into a league where most of the players play travel ball, or play all year around, a goal of mine is for this program to get to that point.”
Patterson High baseball will hold the first Patterson Diamond Club youth baseball clinic on Feb. 9 from 11 a.m to 1 p.m. Players from the ages of 7-14 are encouraged to attend. Sign-ups are $30 per player with a sibling discount available. Those interested can contact Parson at (209) 241-6270.
Practices for the varsity baseball season began this week. Patterson will take the diamond for the first time under Parson on Feb. 16 at Central Catholic High School.