Two important members of the Abilene ISD Athletics staff have been selected as the district’s Coaches of the Month for April.
Heath Parnell, head athletics trainer at Cooper High School, and Keith Vasquez, boys’ athletics coordinator at Craig Middle School, have each been selected for the honor. Earlier in the 2021-22 school year, the AISD Athletics Department implemented a new award to honor its coaches at both the middle school and high school levels.
Parnell, a graduate of Tarleton State University, is in his 25th year working as an athletics trainer, having served at Cooper since 2019.
“I chose athletics training because I played sports and subsequently was injured,” Parnell said. “I wanted to know and understand how injuries occur and what the body does to protect itself from injuries. I also was curious about evaluating injuries. I love all sports and being around kids. I enjoy helping kids through all aspects of rehab and seeing their faces when they are cleared to play.”
Parnell has certainly made an impression on the student-athletes at Cooper, who serves as more than just the athletics trainer.
“ ‘Doc’ (Parnell) has great energy,” one Cooper student trainer said. “He is always there for us and treats us like adults. He is a father figure to many of us. The best part of our day at CHS is when we arrive at the training room and get to work with Doc.”
Vasquez is a graduate of the University of the Incarnate Word and is in his ninth year of teaching and coaching. He is completing his first year as the coordinator at Craig.
“I chose to coach because I love sports,” Vasquez said. “I love to see student-athletes grow as human beings and I have always aspired to be a positive role model for our students. Seeing our student-athletes become successful in their daily lives makes me feel great and confirms that I can make a difference.”
According to one Craig student-athlete, Vasquez is making the difference in lives that he seeks to make.
“Coach Vasquez is an amazing coach and leader,” the student-athlete said. “He pushes us very hard but is always supportive. He is committed to helping us improve and be the best we can be.”