When talking to players both past and present about Coach Park, they all said the exact same thing: “Darcy Park is the Wildcats”. So instead of trying to condense their memories of Darcy into a paragraph, here is what they had to say, in their own words:
“The first time I met Darcy, he was still playing. He was by far one of the best football players I ever had the opportunity to watch in person. If it wasn’t for some injuries and one or two things had gone differently, I believe Darcy would have had a great career in either the NFL or CFL. But things happen for a reason and he has gone on to positively impact thousands of young men’s lives.
I also had the pleasure of being coached by him after I left high school football. He is what you call a players coach. He wants everyone around him to achieve success even before himself. Success in athletics, academics and life. Still as a coach today one can tell Darcy’s vision is far greater than just athletics, he wants to help create successful people. Not many coaches today have past players come see them year after year, even fifteen years later and he does. Athletics are one thing but you know a good coach when he has such a positive impact on young men.” – Trevor MacIntyre (1999)
“Darcy taught me how to train in the off-season, and how to run hard during the season. He wouldn’t try to change the athlete you were – he found ways to make you better and help you adapt. What I remember most about Darcy is that he is the ultimate team coach: leaving a lasting impression about always putting the team first” – Jarred Winkel (1999-2001)
“Darcy is an all-time favourite coach of mine. He is the type of person who wants you to be successful on and off the field. He had a positive impact on all of us not only as football players, but in our personal lives as well. Whether it was improving our football skills or teaching us about commitment and dedication, to helping us find summer jobs, encouraging us to continue our education and be active members in our communities. He was invested in our development as football players and also as a young men.” – Cale Inglis (2004-2005)
“Darcy embodies the mold of a players’ coach. He taught us how to win on and off the field through hard work and discipline. Darcy has made an immeasurable impact on the football community and lives of many young athletes in the Edmonton community. I am proud to call him a lifelong friend and mentor.” – Jesse Schryver (2005-2008)
“Darcy Park was always more than a coach. He was a mentor, motivator, leader, and pushed players to the best of their abilities. I remember Park fighting for me to become the starter, I put in my time and hard work and Darcy was the first to notice the efforts. He would acknowledge the hard work with simple gestures or encouragement, if I had a good week of practice or played a good game he would be the first to let me know. When times were tough and games went badly he didn’t belittle or bash you until your confidence was shot, instead he would set expectations and motivate you to be better. Guys would always call Darcy a players coach because of relationships he built with us players over time but I don’t think that best describes Darcy – he’s a leader that raised the overall expectations of your game and pushed us past our own abilities.” – Andy Pilon (2005-2009)
“To me it was always really clear that Darcy loved the game and to coach, and even more he loved the team. When a coach loves what he does that love becomes contagious. Darcy was always able to light up the locker room and his presence was felt from the moment you walked in until you left. Darcy’s Wildcats weren’t just a team, we were a family and that clubhouse has been a second home to hundreds of kids, and he had a lot to do with it.” – Andrew Carefoot (2009-2013)
“Darcy’s passion and commitment for not only football but his family and developing players from boys to men is unmatched. He is a great role model for anybody lucky enough to be involved with the Wildcat program” – Brad Quartel (2012-2014)
“I’ve had the privilege over my four years of Wildcat Football to play under Coach Park, which on numerous occasions he has proven to be much more than just a coach, but a person who is truly dedicated to his players. It’s hard to describe a person with such a large personality, but Coach Park’s comical demeanor has made my memories of the team stand out amongst others. Even though his intense drive to win was above all else, it was apparent that Coach Park was equally focused on creating upstanding individuals so we would see success when our playing days would come to an end. Coach Park consistently exemplifies the impact that a coach has on player’s lives years after they step off that field down in Rundle Park with the countless life lessons he reiterated. To myself, Darcy Park is more than just a coach, but a mentor and close friend, who always made me feel like family.” – Ryan Doram (2011-2014)
“Darcy Park is a man I can not even begin to describe. From the time I started my Wildcat career he has been a driving force that pushed me in the right direction. His dedication to the team and to the organization he has been apart of is an inspiration that makes anyone around him want to be a better person. Taking the time to learn what I want to accomplish in the off-season as well as in season, he has help me establish a goal set. Even though he has a big heart, his tough attitude forced me to grow up and become a leader on and off the gridiron. Coach Park has helped me continue my life by giving me the support and chance to go to school and further the level of football that I want to achieve. In closing, the five years I spent with him have been the foundation that made me the man/player I am today.” – Marcus Goods (2011-2015)
On behalf of all Wildcats, past and present, thank you Coach Park!