Augustana Observer

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Augustana Observer

Managing Success: How Men’s Basketball Manager Andrew Parker Made His Mark

Do you ever wonder why sports fans cheer so loudly when a team manager or a guy who has never played a minute gets their moment in a game?

It is because oftentimes these dedicated individuals have put in the same amount, or more, of time than the stars of the team, but their efforts are rarely seen on the stat sheets.

Their presence, however, is felt in other ways. Insert men’s basketball manager Andrew Parker into this equation. When seen next to the men’s basketball players, Parker’s presence can be overshadowed. However, over the last four seasons, the senior has served as a constant presence for the team.

Senior teammate Lucas Simon experienced this dedication on a daily basis.

“I remember going into practice all the time…like 30 minutes or an hour before, and he’s always there cleaning stuff up,” Simon said. “A lot of times he was the first one in and the last one out.”

Ironically, Parker was not originally going to attend Augustana College, even though his Augie connections ran deep. Native to the Quad Cities, Parker attended Moline High School and played for the football team there. He had an aunt that worked in the CORE office here at Augustana and was classmates at the time with head men’s basketball coach Grey Giovanine’s son, Luke Giovanine.

Parker’s initial destination was the University of Iowa; however, after visiting Augustana, he fell in love with the small college feel and the charm associated with the picturesque campus. A football player himself, Parker expected to become one of the managers of the Augustana football team. The hope was to join in a tradition of excellence dating back to the 1980s under head coach Bob Reade, whose son was Parker’s offensive coordinator in high school. However, a coincidental opening with the men’s basketball team allowed the then first-year to come on board to what would become a historical team dynamic.

Life for Parker has always followed an unexpected path. When Parker was just under a year old, he was adopted from Russia. Three years later, Parker would be diagnosed with cancer at the young age of four. Facing these obstacles has made Parker’s outlook on life one of optimism and faith.

These characteristics have proven to be instrumental to Parker’s role with the men’s team.

“It’s the little things, like in our group chat he’ll send little motivational things right before the games…or he’ll send a Ted Talk to Coach G that he thought was really interesting and share with everyone on the basketball team…he is just constantly thinking about us and things that will motivate us to do better,” senior Micah Martin said.

For many Augie fans, Parker is known for being on the receiving end of Coach Giovanine’s frivolously thrown suit jacket. But according to Parker, he and Coach Giovanine share a unique relationship.

“It’s a special one, and a real professional one in the sense that we have a similar background of both of us dealing with cancer, so that’s definitely a commonality we have,” Parker said.

Parker also commented on the privilege he felt to work with one of the best coaches in NCAA history.

“Working around someone as special as him, you definitely get to see the slow progression of the team, and a lot of people like to see the end result. Through working with him, I’ve been able to see the slow inches that have been made over seasons,” Parker said.  “So I’d say…he’s kind of like an educator in the sense of just learning how to put things in a position to be successful.”

Despite all of the time and energy spent making sure the team had everything they needed to be successful, Parker made sure he took the time to appreciate the limited time he had with the team.

“You never plan on it ending, but it always does at some point sooner or later,” Parker said.  “So I just had fun with it. I just enjoyed it. I would just go out to center court of each arena and kind of look around because I knew it was probably the last time that I would go to schools like Milikin and Carthage and be able to just stand at center court before a basketball game.”

According to Parker, his favorite moment of his four years was being a part of three out of the five conference championship years that contributed to the historical five peat. Honorable mention moments included going to the 2017-2018 Final Four Tournament during his sophomore year and hosting the Elite Eight Tournament at Augustana.

Even though the men fell a bit short this season, Parker is optimistic the program will get back on track.

“We’ve built such a high level of success and expectation that not making the tournament is a down year for us,” Parker said. “Obviously, the ultimate goal here is winning a national title, and that is going to come here.”

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Managing Success: How Men’s Basketball Manager Andrew Parker Made His Mark