Longtime Pawhuska wrestling coach Martin Parks is coming out of retirement and will return to the mat as the head coach at Bartlesville High School.
Bartlesville school officials announced last week that Parks had agreed to become the new coach of the Bruins.
Parks — who retired two years ago after 31 years as a Pawhuska teacher, coach and administrator — balked at the coaching opportunity when it initially was made by BHS Athletic Director Tim Bart.
"I told him no, that I really didn’t want to get back into coaching," Parks recalled. "But I said, ‘If you haven’t gotten a head coach by the end of July, I’ll think about it.’"
Recently, after the Bruins had still not filled the position, the Pawhuskan decided to accept the offer. Parks stipulated, however, that he only would serve one year and that he would help train someone else to take over the role.
"I said I’ll come in and help get this thing off the ground," Parks said.
Parks has worked previously with the returning state champion of the Bruins, senior Michael Hamilton, as well as his brother Tim Hamilton, a three-time BHS state champ who now wrestles at the University of Oklahoma. The Hamiltons are the sons of Kirk Hamilton, an executive with Citizens Bank of Pawhuska.
Parks told the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise that he also is looking forward to coaching with a pair of former college All-Americans who have joined the staff of the Bruins.
The two BHS assistants are: Josh Pulsefier, a two-time high school state champion from Broken Arrow who earned collegiate All-America status twice at Missouri Valley, and Seth Vernon, who claimed dual state titles at Tulsa Union and All-American honors at the University of Central Oklahoma.
"We’ve got some good young guys," Parks said. "I’m going to kind of mentor them."
In addition, Parks said he is planning to bring other All-Americans to the Bartlesville gym on Sundays, when they will "help anyone that wants to be helped."
During his years with the Huskies, Parks was instrumental in starting the first-ever Pawhuska elementary wrestling program in 1978. He went on to direct three PHS teams to state runner-up finishes and served as assistant to head coach Richard Demoss when the Huskies won the Oklahoma championship in 1990.
Along the way, for his "lifetime service to the sport," Parks was inducted into the National Wresting Hall of Fame in 2003.
Parks, who considers himself to have been average high school athlete at Pawhuska High School, continued to develop his interest in wrestling while he served in the military as an Army medic in the early 1970s. After being discharged, Parks attended and graduated from Oklahoma Baptist University before returning to his hometown to become a teacher.
As an employee of the Pawhuska Public Schools since 1981, Parks coached junior high football and wrestling for 16 years. He completed work on a master’s degree in 1986 and became head wrestling coach at PHS in 1996. Nine years later, he added the duties of assistant principal and athletic director.
Since leaving Pawhuska schools in the spring of 20122, Parks has helped his wife, LaCrecia in operating a trophy-making business out of their home. He also has been involved with a commercial lawn-care service. Parks said was enjoying his retirement.
Parks will be taking the BHS position vacated earlier this summer by Ottawa Cochran. Cochran left Bartlesville after several years for employment nearer his home in Mannford.
The new coach of the Bruins said he wants to lobby for Bartlesville to host a high school regional tournament, something with which he had extensive experience during his years with the Pawhuska program.
"We ran 18 different regionals," Parks noted. "My last six or seven years, we ran four or five. Bartlesville has such nice facilities. It’s a lot of work, but I’d like to seem them put in for it."
Although his time with the Bruins’ program may be relatively short, Parks is hoping to set a tone of progress that will reverberate through the coming years.
"We’re really going to try to put a lot of energy into our junior high program," he noted. "That’s their future."