Jesse Parker, who is tied for the most high school football coaching wins in state history with 309, resigned Wednesday as Gilbert’s head coach but still hopes to continue coaching elsewhere.
Parker, who has been a head coach for nearly 40 years in Arizona at Phoenix Camelback, Mesa Mountain View and Gilbert, with a brief stop in Texarkana, Texas, decided to step down after a meeting with school officials earlier this week.
“Under the circumstances it was my decision to step down,” Parker said. “I talked to a few players (Wednesday) morning and told them what I was doing. I still want to continue coaching, but I felt it was best to step away.”
Parker would not elaborate on the circumstances surrounding his departure, but he did say he will continue working within the district and will help open Gilbert’s newest high school, Campo Verde.
“This is an opportunity to do something that I haven’t done since Mountain View,” Parker, 69, said. “It’s a positive thing for me.
“If a (football) job opens up for me, an old guy, I will certainly apply.”
Parker said he plans on applying for the Phoenix Mountain Pointe job that opened recently.
The Gilbert district issued a release late Wednesday afternoon confirming Parker’s resignation and his role in helping the district begin its athletic program at Campo Verde High. Parker will assist current Gilbert district athletic director Mark Cisterna with that challenge. Cisterna was the Gilbert High athletic director when Parker was hired in 1999.
Cisterna could not be reached for comment.
Gilbert High senior Drew Swartz, a two-way lineman for this year’s 7-4 Tiger squad, said Parker informed some of the players of his decision Wednesday morning.
“He said there were a lot of different factors involved, but he said he wouldn’t be back,” Swartz said. “I shook his hand and gave him a hug.”
Parker has coached five state championship teams in his tenure, four at Mountain View and one at Camelback. He turned around a Gilbert program that had struggled much of the 1990s when he took over in 1999. Parker posted a 65-48 record in 10 seasons at Gilbert, and led the Tigers to seven playoff appearances — including the last four.
Parker was hired by the district prior to the 1999 season with a recommendation from then-district athletic director Joe Pico, who coached with Parker at Mountain View. The Gilbert district has undergone changes at the superintendent’s level twice since then, including the latest at the beginning of this school year.