Harry Wayne Parrish – 2011 ALFCA Lifetime Achievement Award

November 30, 2011

Harry Wayne Parrish (Kneeling on left)

     It seems that some people are meant to do certain things in life.  Some are meant to be doctors, some politicians.  Some are born with a natural skill to be an athlete or maybe they have gifted speech to be a counselor, or a great salesman.  It seems that God intended Harry Wayne Parrish to be a coach and the city of Dothan was fortune enough to be the beneficiary.  A star offensive and defensive tackle at Dothan High School, he was elected team captain on the great 1965 team. That squad went 9-1 in the days before the playoffs, losing only to a great Sidney Lanier team and was ranked #2 in the state. He spurned some smaller colleges to walk on at the University of Alabama.  As a senior in college he started his coaching career helping Coach Red Lutz at Tuscaloosa High School.  After graduation he coached at Daleville for two years before heading back to Dothan where he coached and guided young men at Dothan High School for 13 years which included two trips to the state finals.  In 1978 Dothan opened a new high school and Harry Wayne Parrish was chosen to be its first head coach.  Common belief is that it takes a while to establish a program in a new school but Coach Parrish destroyed that myth. His ability to counsel, communicate and bring the school together put the new Cougars on the fast track to success.  Unbelievably, Northview went 6-4 in that first season.  Then a 9 win season, then a 7 win season.  By 1981 the Cougars were poised to strike.  Northview used a stingy defense averaging less than 10 points per game to roll to a 13-1 record and its first state championship.  Four years later the Cougars played one of the wildest seasons in the Alabama high school football history.  Northview lost three of their first four games.  They would play 5 overtime periods during the regular season  but would still manage to make the playoffs. These “cardiac cougars” led by Lawrence Dawsey and QB Bernard Normberg, got hot in the playoffs. In the third round they defeated a tremendous Fairhope team led by Leon Lett 17-14 at Rip Hewes Stadium in Dothan.  Two weeks later they went to Legion Field and defeated Huffman 32-15 behind Normberg’s three TD passes to David Hogan. An incredible season.  Harry Wayne’s ability to make the difference in the lives of his players was always his greatest attribute.  He truly cared about them. He got them jobs, encouraged them, convinced them they could do what they thought impossible.  A truly humble individual, it was always his staff and the players to whom he gave the credit. In 1991 he retired from Alabama and went to Blakely, Georgia where he had another successful 10 year stint. He was Georgia Coach of the Year twice at Early County, had an undefeated season in 1995 and was state runner up in 1998. He returned to Alabama and coached at Daleville, but he wasn’t through with Dothan.  He returned to the city and opened a successful financial planning business. He became a little league baseball and football coach. He served on numerous church and recreation boards and taught Sunday school.   In 2009 he ran for and was elected as Chairman of the School Board for the City of Dothan.  He has served the city schools with the same tireless devotion that he gave as football coach. Harry Wayne and his wife Sharon of 40 years have three children and four grandchildren.

    Dothan City Schools Supt Sam Nichols said ”Coach Parrish has always demonstrated the highest professional, personal and ethical character.  His major goal has always been to make children more successful. “ School Board member Jimmy Addison who coached against Harry Wayne while at Dothan said, “I could see the respect his players had for him both on and off the field. Coach always wanted his teams to win but more importantly he wanted his teams to be the best they could be.” Former athlete and now assistant head coach at Enterprise Gray Harrison said, “He not only knew the Xs and Os of coaching, but he also knew the small intangibles that made each player a better person in society, student in the classroom, and athlete on the field.” Former Enterprise Superintendent Thad Morgan agreed. “ Harry Wayne Parrish has been a positive influence on the lives of the many young people that were privileged to have him as a teacher or coach.” Old foe Bill Bacon, also of Enterprise said, “He and I had some great battles on the field, but he always handled it with class and dignity.”  TODAY THE ALABAMA FOOTBALL COACHES ARE PROUD TO BESTOW THEIR LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD UPON COACH HARRY WAYNE PARRISH.