Parker gets his wish

For­mer de­fen­sive back joins Alou­ettes coach­ing staff

Cape Breton Post - - SPORTS - BY BILL BEA­CON THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

For Billy Parker, the tough part of be­com­ing a coach will be or­der­ing around some of his old bud­dies in the Mon­treal Alou­ettes de­fence.

Parker, who re­tired af­ter eight sea­sons with the Alou­ettes, was named a de­fen­sive as­sis­tant coach in Jac­ques Chapde­laine’s staff last week.

“The only ones I would have a hard time if I had to cor­rect them would be (de­fen­sive end) John Bow­man and (line­backer) Chip Cox,’’ Parker said Fri­day as the new staff was in­tro­duced to the me­dia in the team’s lock­er­room. “I’ve been play­ing with them and I am truly friends with them.

“We’re very close. But be­cause we’re friends and have great re­spect for one an­other, they un­der­stand that it’s my job and that I wouldn’t do any­thing but try to help them. But I’m sure we will have some fun with that new dy­namic in our re­la­tion­ship.’’

Parker, a fix­ture in the Alou­ettes’ back­field since 2009, wanted to be a coach even be­fore he joined the Cana­dian Foot­ball League club.

The 35-year-old got the coach­ing bug when he played arena foot­ball from 2005 to 2008 with the de­funct New York Dragons and coach Wey­lan Hard­ing asked him to help an­a­lyse film and of­fer sug­ges­tions.

“That was the first time I sat down and looked at coach­ing,’’ said Parker. “That sparked that in­ter­est. Since then, I’ve been look­ing at the game, pay­ing at­ten­tion and try­ing to get op­por­tu­ni­ties to help me grow for this mo­ment.’’

The de­fence has been one of the only bright spots on the once-pow­er­ful Alou­ettes as they missed the play­off the last two sea­sons, but they opted to make changes for the 2017 cam­paign. De­fen­sive co-or­di­na­tor Noel Thorpe is back for a fifth sea­son, but in­stead of hav­ing as­sis­tants as­signed to spe­cific po­si­tions, they’ll have generic job ti­tles. For­mer linebackers coach Greg Quick is se­nior de­fen­sive as­sis­tant white Parker and Ja­son Ho­gan are as­sis­tants.

The plan is to have coaches work with player on the var­i­ous as­pects of de­fen­sive play.

“There will be lead­er­ship roles,’’ said Thorpe. “A lot of the front play will be taken by coach Quick.

“I’m go­ing to be a con­duit be­tween the front and back ends. Be­cause most of his ex­per­tise is in the cover game, Billy will have a lead­er­ship role in the back end, along with Ho­gan work­ing with the free safeties. The di­vi­sion won’t cause any prob­lem at all.’’

A coach­ing shake-up was ex­pected. Chapde­laine, who had been brought in to help An­thony Calvillo as of­fen­sive co-or­di­na­tor, ended up re­plac­ing Jim Popp as head coach in Septem­ber. The team went 4-2 un­der his guid­ance and he was kept on when Popp was re­placed as gen­eral man­ager by for­mer spe­cial team co-or­di­na­tor Kavis Reed.

Parker knew he would re­tire from play­ing at the end of last sea­son but didn’t think there were any coach­ing jobs open in Mon­treal. He had been look­ing for a job when Thorpe called of­fer­ing a spot.

“When I came here in 2013 Billy was al­ready hav­ing a suc­cess­ful ca­reer and I knew that at some point there would be a tran­si­tion into coach­ing,’’ said Thorpe. “This is some­thing he said he wanted to do.

“And he has a coach­ing pedi­gree. He comes from a teach­ing fam­ily. Both of his par­ents are in the ed­u­ca­tional sys­tem. You could see how he em­braced and taught young foot­ball play­ers, so it was a nat­u­ral fit for us.’’

CP PHOTO

In this file photo, Hamil­ton Tiger-Cats Nic Grigsby falls into the end zone for a touch­down past Mon­treal Alou­ettes cor­ner­back Billy Parker dur­ing first half ac­tion in the CFL East­ern Di­vi­sion fi­nal in Hamil­ton, Ont., on Sun­day, Nov. 23, 2014.

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