Sept. 12, 2014
- Hawkeye Football Game Day
- 2014 Fall Camp Central
- Read the September issue of Hawk Talk Monthly
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- Big Ten Network: Free Hawkeye Video
By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — If Norm Parker were alive today, it’s safe to say his wife, Linda, wouldn’t have to clean carpets Friday evening.
“When he got nervous, he vacuumed,” Jim Parker said of his father, Norm. “Our house would be spotless before a big game. It would be 2:30, 3 o’clock in the morning and you would hear the vacuum running downstairs. He would be going in the living room, then in the family room. The bigger the game, the cleaner the carpets.”
Jim Parker will serve as honorary captain when the Hawkeye football team hosts Iowa State on Sept. 13 in Kinnick Stadium (2:35 p.m. CT/ESPN). Norm Parker passed away Jan. 13, 2014, at the age of 72.
Jim Parker and his wife, Denise, live in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan with their three children. Parker is president of Diama-Shield, a flooring contractor that specializes in concrete polishing and installing high-performance epoxy floor coatings.
While working on his undergraduate degree at Michigan State, Parker served as team manager, working close to his father while Norm was an assistant coach for the Spartans.
“I got to see him coaching in the heat of battle,” Jim said. “When the game was on the line, players weren’t sure, everyone was little bit scared, and there was one person who was very calm, very focused. He had the ability to be in that moment and communicate his vision — nothing else in the stadium at that moment mattered. The command he had over the moment when the @%$# hit the fan was when he thrived. That was his moment.”“When he got nervous, he vacuumed. Our house would be spotless before a big game. It would be 2:30, 3 o’clock in the morning and you would hear the vacuum running downstairs. He would be going in the living room, then in the family room. The bigger the game, the cleaner the carpets.”Jim Parker
on his father, Norm
Norm Parker coached at seven colleges before becoming defensive coordinator and linebackers coach for the Hawkeyes from 1999-2011. There were three ingredients, Jim said, as to why the stop at the University of Iowa was Norm’s favorite.
“The first is (head) coach (Kirk) Ferentz. As a human being, everything with Iowa football starts with the person Kirk Ferentz is,” Jim said.
“Second, my dad told me hundreds of times Iowa has the best fans in the country. My dad is a blue collar guy and he related to the hard-working Midwest mentality of Iowa and its fans. There is nowhere in the world he would rather be than on the sidelines at Kinnick Stadium on a Saturday afternoon with 70,000 fans cheering.
“The third thing he loved about Iowa is the type of players they brought in. Coaching is teaching, and he liked working with young people who hadn’t reached their full potential yet and were willing to work hard. You combine those three things and it was a marriage made in heaven.”
Jim and his family remain passionate Hawkeye fans, watching every game at least twice — if not more — during the following week.
“It’s in my blood,” Jim said.
Like most Hawkeye fans, Jim has his favorite Normisms:
Make sure the boy you were is proud of the man you are.
Boys do what they want to do, men do what they have to do.
A million dollars waiting on a dime.
And then his favorite:
“He would come into my room every morning and say, `Jim, rise and shine. Every day a star is born. Today it could be you,'” Jim recalls. “He loved life and he thought every day presented any of us an opportunity to be something great.”
Parker will accompany the Iowa captains to the center of the field for Saturday’s pregame coin toss. He will also be with the Hawkeyes in the locker room before and after the game, and on the sidelines during the contest.
“I am so proud of my father’s role as being part of the Iowa football tradition,” Jim said. “It is an honor to be here to represent my father and my family.”