Coach Spotlight: Chelsea Parker


Photo by: Elodi Breg

In her first year as the head women’s soccer coach, Chelsea Parker has been making the most of her soccer career.

Despite beginning soccer later than most at 11 years old, Chelsea Parker, first-year head women’s soccer coach at FMU, has turned her passion into the career she always wanted. “It is soccer that puts food on my table, and I couldn’t ask for a better scenario for a job, Parker said. “The thing that you love is what supports you, so it has definitely done a lot for my life in terms of who I’ve become, the places I’ve been and the people I’ve met.”

Parker had an interesting start to her career at FMU, as the pandemic struck the week after she moved to Florence.

“It’s a very weird feeling because I came here as soon as COVID-19 hit,” Parker said. “It was like, ‘Oh, wow, March 1 is my first day and then March 14 everything shut down.’”

Parker’s previous coaching experiences involved assistant coaching positions at different schools: Shorter University, Lees McCrae College and Tusculum University. Not only is it her first year with the FMU women’s program, but it is also her first time working as a head coach.

“I think as a first-year head coach, I have hit every bump you can think of,” Parker said. “Even bumps you wouldn’t think of because of the pandemic.”

As a former collegiate athlete herself, Parker is no stranger to adversity. She played volleyball at Mars Hill her entire collegiate career and earned conference titles and academic accolades to commemorate her time there.

“I think one thing that attracted me to this position was knowing the situation, knowing what players I did and didn’t have and how many players were not coming in the fall,” Parker said. “You know, that athlete competitiveness never really goes away; like, ‘Yeah, I’m going to take this on and I’m going to see what I can do with it.’”

She was definitely given a tough role, especially during the pandemic, but Parker is thriving under the pressure.

“Being challenged and uncomfortable every day meant that I was doing something right, that I was working toward something,” Parker said. “It makes the wins, the good practices and that next commit that much more exciting and rewarding. It was definitely a challenge, but I think, as a coach, that is what we want.”

Despite all the adversity throughout her debut at FMU, Parker is determined to take the reins of the program and create the foundation for present and future growth. The Lady Patriots’ record is currently 2-4 in conference, and they are working hard for future victories.

“The goal right now is to instill stability and the cornerstones I want to put in place for the program,” Parker said. “I think we’ve started to see even more structure and an overall change in the atmosphere. I think the goal this year is to make sure we’re healthy and safe and get back on the field, and then do the best that we can do.”

With the NCAA tournament taken away this season and only the top four teams being accepted into the Peach Belt Conference (PBC) tournament, the women’s soccer program will do its best to enter the tournament and prepare for the new conference in the next season. Overall, Parker is looking to transform the program into a household name in Florence and the region.

“I want this to be a place where FMU women’s soccer comes first,” Parker said. “There’s integrity; you’re proud to play for FMU. We want to walk around campus and have people know who we are.”

You can catch the Lady Patriots at their next home game at 1:00 p.m. on March 21 versus Columbus State University at the Murray G. Hartzler soccer field.