McNary varsity football head coach Isaac Parker, shown here talking with his team in 2013, has announced he is taking a coaching job at Lewis & Clark College. (KEIZERTIMES file/Eric A. Howald)

McNary varsity football head coach Isaac Parker, shown here talking with his team in 2013, has announced he is taking a coaching job at Lewis & Clark College. (KEIZERTIMES file/Eric A. Howald)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

Sometimes opportunity gets in the way of vision.

That’s the case for Isaac Parker, head coach of the McNary High School football program, who will be leaving McNary to take a job as offensive line and run game coach and as a recruiter for the Lewis & Clark College later this month.

“I took the job with a long-term vision and because what makes McNary so special is the tight bonds betweens coaches, kids and the community. That will be the hardest part to leave behind, the relationships,” Parker said.

Parker’s last day at the school will be Monday, Jan. 26. He was head coach for the football program for three years and a math teacher for two.

Parker said he was quite content with his position at the school when opportunity came knocking.

“Jay Locey (Lewis & Clark head coach) was looking for someone with ties to the Salem area and Hawaii for recruiting purposes and we happened to have several mutual friends. When some of the other people he was looking at turned out to be unavailable, those friends encouraged him to call me,” said Parker, a native Hawaiian.

Within a matter of days and a few brief conversations during McNary’s winter break, there was an offer on the table and Parker had a day to accept or decline.

During Parker’s tenure as a Celtic coach, the team made gains on the field after a few losing seasons, but perhaps the biggest growth was in making it to the playoffs each year under his guidance.

“The kids expect to play in the playoffs now. That’s something I pride myself on. We got there and we can make a big deal of it. It’s part of our identity again,” Parker said.

Parker was something of a surprise hire for the school coming from an assistant coaching position at South Salem High School, but he had been working on his vision for a high school program for a while before that.

About four years before taking over at McNary, Parker attended a coach’s workshop where Pete Carroll, current head coach of the Seattle Seahawks, was speaking. It was there that he came up with the slogan “Be Victorious” and the Celtic knot that has come to represent the Celtic football program.

“I think I still have the notepad I first wrote all of it down in,” Parker said. “Carroll said that the Xs and Os matter, but not as much as what you’re about. Football will take care of itself. That informed the type of coach I wanted to be – someone who grows and develops the whole person.”

Every single day of his time with the Celtics brought new lessons, some tough, some purely fun, but Parker’s biggest impact was as much on school culture as it was the gridiron.

He was the first in a slew of new coaching staff at the school in almost every sport and, nearly from the first day, spirits at the school began to rise. When he wasn’t focused on the football team, Parker could be seen attending other school performances or announcing for volleyball, basketball and even lacrosse games. He took it upon himself to coach student fans of the various sports the proper way to cheer respectfully for