Class of 2016
Glossing over his resume, Steve Parker can boast plenty of sports accomplishments. First, there are the state titles at Athens High in football and track.
Next, there is the individual national title he won while a member of Abilene Christian’s track and field program.
Getting drafted by the New England Patriots also is a notable highlight. Parker, a 1978 Athens High graduate, was a national champion hurdler
at Abilene Christian during that era — and one of the fastest hurdlers in the
nation. He was in position to qualify for the U.S. Olympic team, but the boycott, which was initiated by former President Jimmy Carter, prevented him from pursuing that opportunity.
“You look back and say, ‘Man, I wish I could have gotten that opportunity,’
” Parker said. “But some things are out of your control. At that time, I was at my peak. But I understand why there was a boycott. You can’t help but wonder how you would have performed on that stage.”
Parker is being inducted into the Limestone County Sports Hall of Fame on June 11.
Even without an Olympics on his resume, Parker is one of the most decorated athletes to graduate from Athens High.
“Steve is one of the fastest athletes I’ve ever been around,” former Athens
High assistant football coach Marvin Young said. “In track, there weren’t many high school runners who could even come close to competing with Steve. He had that rare speed that doesn’t come around often. That speed helped him become a really good football player, and a tremendous track athlete.”
On the football field, Parker starred at Athens as a wide receiver, helping the Golden Eagles enjoy one of the best runs in program history. During his varsity career, Athens amassed a 35-5-2 record and won the 1975 Class 3A state title.
Parker was an All-State selection by the Alabama Sports Writers Association in 1977, and he was an All-Southern selection by The Orlando Sentinel.
Parker continued his football career at Abilene Christian, and he was selected by the New England Patriots in the 11th round of the 1983 NFL draft. He also played with the Chicago Bears and Washington Redskins before retiring from football.
Parker lives in Atlanta, where he works in sales.
“I made a lot of good memories in those days,” Parker said. “Those were some good times.” His first love. Parker was a gifted football player, but track and field was his passion.
With explosive speed and a long stride, Parker excelled on the track as a sprinter and a hurdler. Parker helped Athens
High win three indoor and three outdoor track and field state championships while collecting 20 individual state titles.
While at Athens, Parker held the Alabama High School Athletic Association record in the 100 meter and 200 meter dashes, along with the state record in the 110 meter high hurdles.
At Abilene Christian, Parker blossomed as an elite hurdler, winning three NAIA national titles, and one NCAA Division
II national title.
“Growing up, I always was fast,” Parker said. “My speed was my strength in every sport I played. It just sort of came natural. But when I realized what I could accomplish by applying myself, that’s when my career took off — and I was able to accomplish things I never imagined were possible.”