High School Sports

Daughter wins her 400th volleyball game. Mom just got her 900th.

Edwardsville head volleyball coach Jami Parker talks with her team earlier this season.
Edwardsville head volleyball coach Jami Parker talks with her team earlier this season. znizami@bnd.com

On the night she picked up her 400th career victory, Edwardsville High volleyball coach Jami Parker’s thoughts were elsewhere.

Parker was proud of her Tigers on Tuesday for their 15-25, 25-23, 25-16 come-from-behind victory over Villa Duchesne. She also was aware that she now stands exactly 499 wins behind her mother, longtime Carlinville High volleyball coach Fran Struble.

Struble’s bid for her 900th career win and a family double-milestone night fell just short Tuesday in a three-set loss to Pana, but that 900th victory came two nights later with the Cavaliers’ victory over Staunton.

That makes 1,301 wins in one family. Parker’s teams are 401-158, including 23-4 this season, while her mother’s teams are 900-262 overall and 15-11-2 in 2016.

“My mom’s done all the hard work for that,” said Parker, who has been the head coach at Edwardsville since 2002. “My dad was at her match and her assistant coaches were texting me. The match went three (sets), so we were getting text messages all night. It was fun, mom was going for her 900th win and me for 400.”

Now in her 37th season at Carlinville, Struble’s teams have never had a losing record. They have topped the 30-win mark 12 times and finished third at the 2009 Class 2A state tournament.

I think the thing that nobody fully appreciates, including myself, is mom was one of the first coaches in after Title IX. It’s something people my age take for granted, that there’s always been a gym for me to play in or a field for me to play on. When my mom went to a school she was a cheerleader because that’s the only athletic thing girls could do.

Edwardsville coach Jami Parker

“I think the thing that nobody fully appreciates, including myself, is mom was one of the first coaches in after Title IX,” Parker said of landmark 1972 legislation that helped level the playing field for female athletes, sports and educational programs. “It’s something people my age take for granted, that there’s always been a gym for me to play in or a field for me to play on.

“When my mom went to a school she was a cheerleader because that’s the only athletic thing girls could do.”

Parker is 39 and her mother will turn 66 later this month.

Just like one of the metro-east’s most successful coaches, six-time state champ and 1,046-match winner Fred Rakers from Mater Dei High, Struble learned how to coach from reading books on the sport and talking to others.

“She literally had to read books to learn how to coach volleyball and how to do skills,” Parker said of her mother’s steep learning curve. “She had to attend clinics. She never played (volleyball) and she didn’t know it. My mom is an absolutely phenomenal athlete, but she never had those opportunities as a player.

“The girls don’t realize how hard the women of that time had to work to produce those sports and make them what they are today.”

According to Illinois High School Association records, the state’s only coaches with 1,000 or more wins are Wheaton St. Francis coach Peg Kopec (1,248), Mt. Pulaski’s Donna Dulle (1,052) and Rakers (1,046).

My dad was at her match and her assistant coaches were texting me. The match went three (sets), so we were getting text messages all night. It was fun, mom was going for her 900th win and me for 400.

Edwardsville coach Jami Parker

Along with those three, the only others to top 900 career wins before this season were Kristy Pierce (939 with Shannon and Eastland), Helen Dulle (921 with Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin) and Nan Airola (919 with Providence Catholic).

Both Parker and her sister, sister, Kim Spencer, were proud to be able to play for their mother’s teams at Carlinville High.

Parker went on to play on two NCAA Division III national championship teams at Washington University in St. Louis while her sister was a walk-on at Illinois-Chicago.

“My sister and I both played for our mom from middle school all the way through high school,” said Parker, whsoe Edwardsville teams own nine regional titles and four sectional titles since 2002 along with a third-place finish at the 2010 Class 4A state tournament. “It was a great experience for both us and we actually played together on some of the teams. We grew up on the gym stage or playing together in the balcony, playing with the older girls when we were little.”

Along with her mother, Parker was quick to thank all the players and assistant coaches she has worked with at Edwardsville and many others along the way.

“I’ve been absolutely blessed,” she said. “I’ve had some phenomenal role models in my life, from college coaches to high school coaches here at Edwardsville that have taken me under their wing, and my mom. I’ve been very blessed with great kids and great athletes.

“My name might be out front, but my coaching staff over the years has been absolutely tremendous. Any one of my coaches could be head coaches on their own. They’ve chosen to work with me in this program and I’m blessed to have them.”

Norm Sanders: 618-239-2454, @NormSanders

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