LaGrange Academy’s Charles Parker wins first GIAA Athletic Director of the Year in 39 years at the school

Published 4:48 pm Friday, March 15, 2024

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LaGrange Academy athletic director Charles Parker has been serving in that role for 39 years now, but even he still has surprises thrown his way. On Monday, Parker won the GIAA Athletic Director of the Year award from the Georgia Athletic Directors Association — the first time he has won the prestigious honor in his notable career with the Warriors.

“To know this was voted on by my peers makes me feel good,” Parker said. “I’ve had all the teachers and a lot of students come and congratulate me, which has been special. Basically, I just tried to do my job as a coach, and an athletic director, and you’re never going to please 100% of the people, but I’ve always tried to do the job to the best of my ability.”

The year 2023 was one of the most up-and-down years of Parker’s life. He went from losing all energy and will to continue in his current role as athletic director to getting a kidney transplant to helping revive programs at the school.

“After this kidney transplant and winning this award, it really makes you sit down and think about your life and all the people you’ve impacted,” Parker said. “It’s hard to believe that this time last year, I was I was almost ready to say, ‘I’m ready for the good Lord to come get me.’”

Even when he was fighting his own personal battles, Parker was always there for the athletic program regardless of sport. Even when he was feeling low on energy, he found a way to make it out to the girls basketball championship run every step of the way.

While the honor was undoubtedly deserved for his work in 2023, it also felt like an award for a career of outstanding work. 

“I feel like I’ve had to be doing something right for them to keep me around for 39 years,” Parker said with a chuckle.

LaGrange Academy is home for Parker. He spent 39 of his 45 years working as an athletic director for the Warriors. He had opportunities to leave over the years, but Parker never could say goodbye to LaGrange.

“There’s been a number of opportunities for me to leave, but the grass is always greener on the other side,” Parker said. “I could have bettered myself and bigger schools. But now, this is where my kids went to school. And this is where I enjoyed being.”

Parker has seen a lot of change over the years at LaGrange Academy. From up and down the GIAA classifications, numerous heads of schools and a ton of different coaches come and go, Parker has just about seen it all. And no matter how much changed around him, Parker found a way to not just keep the athletic department afloat but keep it thriving. 

Just last year, the girls basketball team won the state championship, the volleyball team won its first playoff game and the boys basketball team has been revived with a coach who has a real game plan for the program.

Parker is quick to highlight just how important hiring the right coaches is to having a thriving athletic department.

“What I’m most proud of is that I’ve got coaches that know what to do,” Parker said. “They know what I expect from them, and they do it.”

More progress and changes within the athletic department are coming. 

“We are actually in the final stages of our first-ever inaugural Hall of Fame class, which is something we have been discussing for a while now,” Parker said. “We have been looking at names going all the way back to 1979, trying to figure out which members will be a part of our first class. We will have that induction, hopefully, sometime right after Labor Day.”

Parker is not ready to throw in the white towel yet. Feeling re-energized since his kidney transplant, he plans to stick around as long as he can help make a difference in young people’s lives.

“If I don’t feel good, I’m gonna hang it up. And right now, I feel good, and I’m not going to hang it up yet,” Parker said.