After all, Parker had already made a name for himself in the sport and has accumulated various coach of the year awards in minor league baseball and at the college level.
Finally, after a year’s absence, it is now official, Excel has announced the return of its high school baseball program this spring and a return of its varsity program in the spring of 2015 under the direction of Parker.
“That’s what the school wanted to do when they hired me, is rebuild the baseball program,” Parker said. “They’ve had a good tradition of it in the past. It has been one of their best sports in the past. It’s just been over the last couple of years that it’s dropped off, so we just want to rebuild that and make it a good part of the school again.
“We have an all-star coaching staff, great indoor and outdoor facilities, so there is no reason that we shouldn’t have the best private high school baseball program in the state.”
Parker, who coaches Excel’s softball program in the fall and is currently the interim boys basketball coach, has already experienced coaching success at a high level in baseball. His expertise throughout his career has been in rebuilding struggling programs.
Parker has been named the manager of the year in back-to-back seasons while coaching independent minor-league baseball teams. He was named the 2009 Frontier League Coach of the Year in his only season with the River City Rascals after leading his team to a franchise-record 56-win season. The following year he took the Joliet Jackhammers of the Northern League to the playoffs after a 20-win improvement from the season before. Consequently, Parker was named the 2009 Northern League Manager of the Year.
In 2001, as the head coach at Brewton Parker College, he took over a program on probation with two returning players. In two years, the Barons were back in the top 10 in the country in NAIA. As a result, he was named the 2004 Georgia Collegiate Coach of the Year.
Parker also has experience as an associate scout with the Atlanta Braves.
“My purpose of being at Excel is to build athletic programs that resemble the atmosphere, attitude and mission, excellence,” he said. “It will be a process that will take awhile, but I am in it for the long haul.”
Parker will not be the only member of Excel’s coaching staff with an impressive resume, however. Joining Parker’s staff will be former Georgia Tech all-American and New York Yankee farmhand Luke Murton, who will serve as Excel’s hitting coach and head middle school coach.
Murton is in the top 10 of several offensive categories at Georgia Tech and has several minor league all-star selections throughout his professional career. He reached as far as the AAA level in the Yankee organization.
“Luke is a guy that has played at the highest level he could play at since he was a kid,” Parker said of Murton. “He has been in clubhouses with the game’s best stars at the Major League level.”
Also joining the staff will be former Texas Ranger farmhand Michael Schlact, who will serve as the team’s pitching coach for both the high school and middle school teams.
Schlact was the Rangers’ third-round draft pick out of Wheeler High School, where he was an all-American. Schlact pitched up to the AAA level with the Rangers.
“Mike and Luke are tremendous additions to the Excel community. Not only do they bring great baseball knowledge, they also embody the mission of the school with spiritual maturity and purpose,” Parker said. “A head coach is only as good as his help. I am truly blessed to have these two, and I am excited for what we all can accomplish for the students at Excel Christian Academy.
“I feel like with our experience, and most importantly, the character those two guys display, I feel like we have as good as coaching staff as any high school team around. And I know, with all of our experience, we can really prepare kids for college and that’s our No. 1 goal. We want to prepare guys for college, for some, professional baseball, and most importantly, we are preparing kids for life.”
Not only has Parker brought in an all-star staff, but he will provide an indoor facility, ParkWay Sports, located on West Avenue in Cartersville, for his athletes to practice. The Eagles will play their home games at the old Cass High ballpark and the middle school team will play at Hamilton Crossing.
It is Parker’s hope that by 2015, his team will play a region schedule. Excel’s athletic programs compete in Region 6-A, sub-region A.
“Mount Paran is pretty good. North Cobb Christian is always real good,” Parker said. “It’s a tough little conference.”
According to Parker, there has already been several potential players interested in the program.
“We’ve had a few people contact us wanting to know if we were going to have baseball and if we were going to start it back up, so the more we get the word out, the more interest people will have, which is always good for a private school with our enrollment,” Parker said.
Parker also believes there is plenty of talent in northwest Georgia to form a competitive roster. He also feels the building of the LakePoint Sporting Community and Town Center currently in progress will help draw talent to the region and Excel.
“With the LakePoint [Sporting Community], we know that brings us some more baseball guys to our school,” Parker said. “The future is bright in baseball. We think that’s going to help us at Excel as much as anybody.”
Another benefit of adding a baseball program is that Excel now has more to offer its student-athletes. Not only can Excel attract baseball players but also dual-sport athletes, which in turn, should improve all of Excel’s athletics.
“Excel has always had really good baseball and has had great middle school baseball teams in the past that have been great contributors to all of Cartersville’s baseball championships,” Parker said. “A lot of those guys have left and went to Cartersville to play there. Our main goal is to keep the kids that we have and have the program in place that there’s no reason to leave. We’re thinking our fourth- and fifth-graders, who are really good baseball players and really good athletes, those are the ones that we want to be able to keep in the coming years. We want a program good enough that they want to play here.”