FLEMING ISLAND, Fla. – In what might have gone from quiet to getting around fast, Fleming Island has found its new head coach, poaching one of the best assistant coaches in the Jacksonville area from another top-area program.
On Wednesday morning athletes at Fleming Island were told about the hiring of Chad Parker, who has served as a longtime assistant coach at Bartram Trail (St. Johns) under now-retired head coach Darrell Sutherland who retired after establishing the program 23 years ago. The news was made official by the school on Thursday morning.
Parker, who made the trip to Fleming Island for the announcement on quick notice while serving as an assistant coach at the Florida Athletic Coaches Association 67th annual North-South All-Star Classic in The Villages, talked to FloridaHSFootball.com about getting the Fleming Island job and what it means to him to be a first-time head coach.
“It has been a dream of mind to have the opportunity to be a head football coach and there is only a handful schools that I would consider outside of Bartram Trail and Fleming Island has always been one that I have had my eye on,” Parker said.
And his connections run deep with Fleming Island athletic director Travis Cunningham and likes the opportunity he will have with family while becoming the head coach of the Golden Eagles.
“I know the AD very well over there, Travis Cunningham as he is a friend of mine,” Parker said.
“I thought it would be a great fit for me and my family with the hours they have and give me a little more free time in the afternoons after practice to be able to get my kids events.”
He believes he can continue the tradition that has been established at Fleming Island with fit into the program.
“It’s a perfect fit and I think we can do a good job there,” Parker said.
As for things to do in the first year as the Golden Eagles head coach, Parker would like to establish a culture from the onset.
“Year one is to come in and establish culture. I will do some things very similar to what we did at Bartram Trail, I will do some things the Chad Parker way and take a good mix of the two and try to make it a fun environment for the kids,” Parker said.
He wants to help the kids out and get them into college and do things that are to his strengths he added knowing the talent that Fleming Island has, especially under previous head coach Damenyum Springs.
“Coach Springs did a great job. I have always admired the work they have done over there, and I am just looking forward to coming over and continuing and building upon what they have already established there,” Parker said.
As for the influences that Sutherland had on Parker wanting to become a head coach along with his time at Bartram Trail, Parker was very enthusiastic about why it was important to have worked under Sutherland.
“I came to Bartram Trail knowing that one day I wanted to be a head football coach and I knew what the best scenario was, so I left Orange Park to come over and learn under him. It has been awesome. He has given me every opportunity to grow and develop and take on the responsibility to put me in the position I am in today.” Parker said.
Fleming Island finished the 2022 season with a 5-4 overall record, missing the playoffs in Class 4S-Region 1.