By Kevin Eickman
Milford wrestling coach Don Parsley is more than a fixture for the Buccaneers, he is possibly an institution. Having been the head coach of wrestling for over 32 years, he has always produced competitive teams, garnering state team titles as well as numerous individual state title winners during his time at Milford. All the while, it has never been about him, it has been the about the athletes he has coached and the people they have become. If you do something long enough and well enough however, eventually you accomplish something tangible.
That was just the case in the final dual-meet of 2021 as Milford defeated Lake Forest 54-19, back on Dec. 21. Normally, we would take you through the meet mechanics _ the wins, the losses, the pins. However, this was more about Parsley as he recorded the 300th dual-meet win of his career. That is rarefied air, while there have been other wrestling coaches in Delaware who have achieved the milestone, there aren’t that many. Speaking with Parsley recently, he took time to share his thoughts on the accomplishment. “I can tell you this much, it’s not a goal you set for yourself. You just set out hoping that you can do a decent job, the furthest thing from your mind is getting to a number of wins that high,” Parsley said. “My only thought was to get our first win and then move on from there. I have always maintained the same philosophy, just get better every practice, every match and the wins will take care of themselves.”
Parsley has two children, his son Nate and daughter Nikki, who are both NCAA coaches. When asked about how he felt about that, Parsley took a bit of a moment to catch himself and shared what he thought about their choice of vocation. “I think it’s great that they have gotten into coaching and are doing well at it. They were both great athletes growing up, but I think that when they saw what a difference coaching could make, I think that is when they made that commitment to serve as athletic coaches,” Parsley continued. “It was really an environment they were immersed in and brought them to where they are today. Not to brag, but I have World and Olympic Champions at my dinner table, as well as just any other wrestler without the fame. My children came to understand that everyone needs a mentor, but not just for athletics, but more as an educator.”
As is obvious by now, Parsley is a huge family man and the person who has stood beside his life the entire time is his wife, Bonnie. “I can honestly say I don’t know where I would be without her. She has been my strength and my source of inspiration. I could not even begin to recount the sacrifices she has made, so that our family could pursue our dreams. She is truly the love of my life, and this accomplishment is as much a reflection on her as myself,” Parsley said.
On the night he achieved his milestone, Parsley was stunned to see the generations of alumni that turned out to recognize him. “It has been a privilege to have coached as long as I have and to see the wonderful people of this community come out and offer congratulations to me. It was honestly something I didn’t expect, it was very humbling for me,” Parsley concluded.
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