Dark Horse Legend Opens Speed School in Familiar Surroundings


Willie Parker, in white bucket hat, welcomes a group of student athletes to the inaugural session of the Willie Parker Speed School on Monday morning at Dark Horse Stadium. Parker stressed the importance of commitment to improvement and hard work to get the maximum out of their athletic abilities. (Mike Carter/Sampson Independent)

When you hear the name Willie Parker your mind immediately turns to Super Bowl record touchdown runs and brisk fall nights when Fast Willie was getting the corner and breaking another long run in Dark Horse Stadium. But Willie would be the first to tell you that his ability to break the long one was honed on many steamy mornings just like the ones we have enjoyed this week in Sampson County, and that is what brought Parker back to Dark Horse Stadium on Monday morning. Parker and another former Dark Horse great, Jerris McPhail, have partnered in a new endeavor and were back at home in Dark Horse Country on Monday for the inaugural session of Fast Willie Parker’s Speed School.

Parker and McPhail hosted 32 athletes from all sports in the initial session of the speed school. The former NFL players put the athletes through a series of drills based on the principals of a collegiate and NFL level workout. Parker says he plans to ask a lot of the participants and wants them to expect the same from him and McPhail. “I expect the kids to be committed to coming in here and working hard, giving it their all and becoming a better athlete, we will give them the tools they need to get better” explained Parker.

The school will meet twice a week through the summer and Parker has lined up some former area players and current coaches to help put the student athletes through the paces at each session. In the end the participants will receive instruction and drills that will improve their speed, endurance and strength. Parker said, “we are bringing a level of workout to these kids that they have not seen before, they will get a college workout that will make them better players in whatever sport they play.”

Parker certainly understands the importance of speed on the field which he displayed regularly during a 6-year NFL Career with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Parker still holds the record for the longest touchdown run from scrimmage for his third quarter 75 yard scamper against the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XL. Parker is also fondly remembered by Dark Horse fans for his more than 3,000 rushing yards over his final two years at CHS. During that same two year stint, Parker helped the horses to a State Championship and scored 38 touchdowns.

Parker will be holding a one day per week school in Durham this summer in addition to the sessions in Clinton. Jerris McPhail said he was on board quickly with Parker’s idea when he called, “I was on board right away when Willie asked me to get involved with this. It is a great opportunity for these kids to see what it takes to succeed at a high level in their chosen sport. They can see first hand what it takes to develop into a player at the next level. I am just honored to be a part of it and have a chance to give back to this community.”

Parker hopes that the speed school will evolve into a statewide and even nationwide business. “Right now there are only the two of us but we hope to grow this concept and take it on the road to other parts of the state and even nation eventually” said Parker. Parker indicated that there is interest for a school in the Charlotte area at some point in the near future.

Parker indicates that even though they have 32 enrolled for the first session he has room for more athletes, and he encourages anyone interested in the school to contact him. For more information on Fast Willie Parker’s Speed School, email Parker at [email protected]

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