After 16 years of leading the Edwardsville High School girls volleyball program, Jami Parker is switching teams and conferences as she takes over the coaching duties at Triad High School.
Parker picked up the 400th win of her coaching career in 2016 and led Edwardsville to a 33-6 record last fall. The Tigers earned a berth in the class 4A super-sectional where it lost to Minooka.
Parker takes over the Knights' program from Lee Coakley, who resigned to spend more time with his family following a 16-12 record in 2018.
Ironically, it's the same desire to prioritize family that led Parker to apply for the Knights' coaching position. The Parker family lives in the Triad School District.
"I have a priority sheet I give the volleyball girls every school year when I meet with the parents. At the very top of that priority list is faith, family, academics, athletics and everything else. That is the priority that I give the girls and the team when we start the season every year so we can keep our priorities in line and so we can have a successful season," Parker said. "What I have found the last few years is that my priorities were out of line.
"My academics and my work had started to come ahead of my family. It had started to affect my family life. That was something I felt had to be changed."
The daughter of legendary Carlinville High School volleyball coach Fran Struble, Parker helped build one of the top programs in the state at Edwardsville High School. In addition to winning over 400 matches, Parker led the Tigers to 11 regional championships and a third-place finish at the 2010 Class 4A State Tournament.
Parker said it was tough to leave the Tigers, but that she is looking forward to working with a new program.
"It was tough for me to leave Edwardsville. There are some amazing people there and I had 16 years of friendships and relationships in that district. Saying goodbye to everyone that last day was tough for me to do," Parker said. "But I'm also excited about starting in a new place."
Parker takes over a Knights program that has been in the middle of the pack in the Mississippi Valley Conference in recent years. This past season's winning mark of 16-13 was their first since finishing 19-12-1 in 2013. Triad placed third behind Highland and Mascoutah a year ago.
"I've known about Triad for a while. They were in our conference when I was in high school. It's a school district with great academics, it is a beautiful building with outstanding facilities," she said. "I have a lot of friends who work in the district and they talk all the time about the wonderful relationships they have with the staff and administration. I'm excited to be here. Its a program that my daughter will be coming through in a few years. I'm excited about getting our family moving together. It will be a nice change."
Parker was scheduled to meet her team for the first time this week and she is confident she can turn the Knights' program into a strong one.
"When we went into Edwardsville, they weren't a nationally-ranked program," she said. "We worked very hard, the girls, the coaching staff, the parents and administration, to build a very successful program.
"I'm excited and really looking forward to getting in here (Triad) and building a successful program."
Parker will work as a social worker at Triad.