July 3, 2013 4:46:44 PM
STARKVILLE -- It's amazing what people will do to stay around the game they love.
Three years ago, Jarrod Parks had no thoughts about coaching. When asked if he wanted to coach after his senior season at Mississippi State University, his answer was a resounding no.
"I want to be around people in baseball that will treat this like a full-time job," Parks said. "I did when I played and I have to be around the same commitment level. That was my concern about getting into coaching. These kids want to do what I did, which is get to a Division I school or get to pro ball as soon as possible."
Parks didn't want the responsibility of being a captain, he wasn't looking to be a leader and, fortunately for the 2011 MSU club, that's what he was.
"I was the unofficial leader of the team," Parks said. "I wasn't looking to be a leader, but when I spoke, I had something significant to say and the guys listened."
However, it took the right place, right person, and right situation to get Parks to become a baseball coach. That right person was Chris Rose. The right place was East Mississippi Community College. On Wednesday, Rose and EMCC announced Parks will be an assistant coach for the baseball program.
"I'm very excited to be able to bring in someone with Jarrod's knowledge of the game, energy level, and overall character," Rose said. "Jarrod's SEC connections and experience factor can't be measured, and we look forward to having him make an impact on our baseball program here at EMCC."
Parks played for Rose for two seasons at Meridian C.C. As a sophomore shortstop on the Eagles' 2008 MACJC state championship team, Parks batted .375 with 14 home runs to earn NJCAA All-Region 23 honors. As a freshman at MCC, he claimed second-team All-State laurels after hitting .407 with 19 extra-base hits and 40 RBIs.
"After everything Chris Rose did for me and my family, it was an offer I couldn't refuse," Parks said. "When he asked, I thought about it for a night and decided it was the perfect opportunity to start this phase of my life."
Parks, a Madison native, was one of three finalists for the Cellular South (C Spire Wireless) Ferris Trophy after leading the MSU Bulldogs in several offensive categories as a senior. Parks batted a team-leading .363 and pacing the Bulldogs in hits (77), triples (three), walks (44), hit by pitches (20), and on-base percentage (.507). In helping lead MSU to the NCAA Atlanta Regional championship and a runner-up finish at the NCAA Gainesville Super Regional, Parks led the Southeastern Conference in batting average through the regular season and ranking among the league leaders in on-base percentage after battling back from season-ending back surgery as a junior.
"We viewed Jarrod as a coach on the field for us during his career at Mississippi State," MSU coach John Cohen said. "I know Jarrod will be an outstanding coach and phenomenal leader of young men at East Mississippi Community College."
Parks, who played third base at MSU, will focus on working with infielders and hitting instruction at EMCC.
"If somebody put up numbers before I got at a place or in professional baseball, I was smart enough to listen to what they had to say," Parks said. "When I played, if somebody was a good player they got instant credibility from me when they wanted to show you something. I expect these kids at EMCC are the same way."
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim selected Parks in the 24th round of the 2011 Major League Baseball First-Year Player draft. He advanced to the Angels' Class A Advanced affiliate in San Bernardino, Calif., as a rookie before concluding his pro career a year later. Parks was a career .240 hitter in the minor leagues, but he hit .419 in his first stretch of professional baseball with the Rookie Ball Orem (Utah) Owlz of the Pioneer League.
For the first time, Parks will be able to recruit athletes who want to help build a program. EMCC went 21-23 last season.
"I know the Meridian metro area and, quite frankly, know the area around East Mississippi's campus, too," Parks said. "I'm a guy that's going to love traveling around to see kids play and, hopefully, get them to share their dreams in this game to me."
n In other EMCC news, football coach Buddy Stephens has added Louisiana high school coaching veteran DeCarlos Holmes and Starkville native Webb Hamilton to the Lions' coaching staff. The hirings have been approved by EMCC President Dr. Rick Young and EMCC Vice President/Director of Athletics Mickey Stokes.
With a decade's worth of coaching experience in the Louisiana prep ranks, Holmes is assigned to handle the day-to-day coaching responsibilities of EMCC's defensive line personnel. Holmes, a former defensive standout at Grambling State University, has had 10 defensive linemen sign scholarships with NCAA Division I programs in the past seven years, including four players who have displayed their talents at Southeastern Conference schools.
Most recently, Holmes spent last season as an assistant football coach at St. Augustine High School in New Orleans.
Hamilton, a former standout at Starkville Academy and graduate of Mississippi State University, is charged with the supervision of EMCC's running backs in addition to serving as the staff's video coordinator. Most recently, he spent 18 months as the defensive backs coach at East Central Community College in Decatur.
Prior to moving into the junior college coaching ranks, Hamilton worked as a student assistant football coach while completing his bachelor's degree in kinesiology at MSU. During the offseason in 2009, he assisted the Bulldogs' defensive and special teams staffs with various administrative duties. In addition, Hamilton helped with MSU's summer football camps and assisted with the program's day-to-day football operations and recruiting tasks.