Parker retires after almost four decades as Chi-Hi boys head hockey coach

CHIPPEWA FALLS — A name synonymous with high school hockey in this region has hung up his skates for the last time.

After almost 40 years behind the bench, Scott Parker announced his retirement as Chippewa Falls High School’s boys head hockey coach late Thursday afternoon.

In an email sent to the Leader-Telegram that addressed Parker’s retirement, Michael Thompson, Chippewa Falls High School athletic director, praised the veteran coach and thanked him for his leadership of the Cardinals hockey team over the years and the impact that he has had not only on the players he has coached, but also on the community at large.

“Coach Scott Parker has made the tough decision to retire from being the head high school boys hockey (coach) at Chippewa Falls. He coached here for 38 years, the last 37 as the head coach,” Thompson states in the email.

The athletic director went on to say in the email remarks that “His mark on Chi-Hi Hockey is felt by many in the hockey community. He had high standards for playing hockey the right way and making sure each team respected each other. He is a family man that stood for high standards. Chippewa Falls saw a lot of success under his direction. His most prized accomplishments are the relationships with former players, coaches, officials, event workers, and administrators.”

Thompson told the Leader-Telegram that the search for Parker’s successor will begin immediately “and we intend to have the position filled in July.”

Parker guided his first team — the 1987-88 Chi-Hi squad — to the state tournament and ended his 37th year behind the bench by guiding the Cardinals team to an undefeated record in the Big Rivers Conference. The squad would make it to the semi-final round of the Wisconsin boys state hockey tournament where the No. 1-seeded Cardinals were defeated by the Brookfield East Co-Op, 6-5, in overtime. The 2023-24 campaign saw the coach lead a spectacular team that went undefeated from Dec. 21 — when they lost to Stevens Point, 5-3 — until that state tournament defeat. The Cardinals ended their season at 24-4 on their way to winning the Big Rivers Conference title.

In discussing that team with the Leader-Telegram during their playoff run this past March, Parker proudly pointed to the squad’s defense as a key cog in the squad and an important reason why they were winning.

“Tough defense- (it) usually wins in most sports,” the long-time Cardinals head coach told the Leader-Telegram in that interview last winter. Parker also noted in the article that he felt that his team’s defensive zone coverage has been its biggest improvement since the start of the season and has contributed greatly to the squad’s success leading up to the Final Four.

For the 2023-24 season, Parker was named in March as Coach of the Year in his division and section by the Wisconsin Hockey Coaches Association (WHCA) in part, for his guiding the squad to the conference championship crown. Additionally, the WCHA named senior forward Jackson Hoem Player of the Year at its annual awards banquet.

In a social media post made Thursday evening on X, formerly known as Twitter, Parker posted a picture of a wall in his office lined up with framed photographs of the teams he’s coached with the simple caption: “Thank you to all players who worked hard. Jerseys are earned not given.”

The Leader-Telegram reached out to Parker, but had not heard back from him at press time.

In another interview with the Leader-Telegram earlier this year as his team was in the midst of its state playoff run, Parker talked about his love for the game and it begged the question as to what kept him going and what kept coaching fresh for him. The answer was simple and concise.

“Players keep me going- (That’s) why I do it,” Parker said in the interview.

And having coached for three-plus decades, it was only logical to wonder whether Parker had a key motto he coached by — and, indeed, he said that he did.

“Hustle-Desire-Discipline — handed down from my White Bear Lake Mariner coach Tom Simpson,” Parker said.

In January 2019, the Chippewa Falls boys varsity coach, who served as a teacher of the game for generations of Chi-Hi students, was recognized for hitting a 30-plus-year milestone along with his first team — that 1987-88 squad — which was the first to reach the Wisconsin state hockey tournament in Chippewa Falls boys hockey history.

At that ceremony, a player from that first team, Scott Trippler, told the Leader-Telegram how important Parker was to his squad and discussed what made him successful as a hockey coach in general.

“In ‘88, he was the right guy at the right time at the right school for the right team,” Trippler said in the 2019 Leader-Telegram story. “He instills toughness in the teams he coaches, and he cares about his kids.”