Littleton Parker retiring from Southampton High SchoolPublished 9:40am Friday, May 31, 2013
BY STEPHEN H. COWLES/STAFF WRITER
COURTLAND—Those who’ve been coached by or worked with Littleton Parker at Southampton High School can all agree: they’ve been taught more than just how to play football, baseball or basketball. They’ve learned how to do what’s right and proper in life. That’s served them well, for many have gone on to successful careers as attorneys, coaches, professional football players or businessmen.
“I just love to see kids achieve things,” said Parker, who serves as athletic director and assistant principal. He confirmed Thursday he’ll retire at the end of this school year.
There are no set plans for retirement, he said, adding only that he needs some time to relax.
“I want them to be successful in life,” Parker continued. “It’s not about wins and losses, but about what they’re doing five years or 10 years after high school. That’s what it’s about.”
His departure will bring to a close his 32 years in Southampton County’s school system. Twenty-two of those years had been as head coach of the aforementioned sports at different times.
“It’s my time to retire,” Parker said. “I’ve had a great career and great people to work with. It has not been about me. I’ve been dedicated to the job and the kids. My objective has been to build men.”
He points to photos of three of his former athletes who went on to the National Football League: Riddick Parker (Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots); Percy Ellsworth (New York Giants and Cleveland Browns) and Greg Scott (Washington Redskins, Cincinnati Bengals and the Grand Rapids Rampage), founder and CEO of Cover 3 Foundation in Franklin.
“Words can’t even describe the lessons, leadership and just the structure he gave to young men’s lives,” said Scott, who played at Southampton High from 1994-98.
“Of course, football was important to him, but also building positive productive young men once they left Southampton High,” Scott said. “He was an excellent role model. He taught us to take no shortcuts, treat people right and respect our elders. I definitely believe that. He was a blessing to a lot of young men.”
“Collectively, I just believed in what he told me came to the fore of working hard and doing things right,” Scott continued. “Fast forward to when I signed for a full football scholarship at Hampton University.”
“He was a very positive figure in my life,” he said about Parker. “I’ve been rolling strong ever since.”
“It’s been a pleasure to work with him,” said Will Melbye, the head basketball coach at Southampton High. “I learned so much. He showed me the right way of doing things, and was always supportive and helped with questions or concerns.”
“He really is a father figure by looking after you and making sure you know what’s coming,” Melbye added.
This past season, Parker helped out when the coach was short of an assistant, and brought his experience and know-how.
“He’s going to be missed,” Melbye said. “Those are pretty big wingtips somebody’s got to fill.”
Southampton High baseball coach Wes Griffith said he’ll always remember Parker as intense and detailed.
“He coached you up on the finest points. You did it and you did it well,” Griffith said. “When I coached with him, same thing.”
He remembers Parker repeatedly telling his teammates, “Do good things and good things will happen.”
“Every player he has coached has heard this from him and tried to believe in,” Griffith added.
No less important, dedication and loyalty have been other qualities Parker taught him, and in turn, Griffith said, he has passed this one to his own athletes.
A 1970 graduate of the Hayden High School in Franklin, Parker went on to Norfolk State University.
“I always wanted to be a coach,” Parker said.
He also remembered his time with Wayne Cosby, the head football coach at Southampton High, who retired in 1980.
“He came some time in the early 1970s, as well as I remember,” Cosby said. “He coached the receivers for us, and later the defensive backs. He always had a good work ethic and attitude and did the things we asked him to do. He was just a real good team member.”
From 1972 through 1979, the Southampton High School football team played in eight consecutive state championship games, winning four of them.
Parker said one of his earliest and best lessons he gained from Cosby was not to leave any stone unturned and pay attention to the details.
“He’s just been a steady force,” Cosby continued. “He’s been real good for the students and athletes. He’s certainly been a lot more than a coach. He was a good person and a good person to be working with our young people.”