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Padecky: Parmeter won't allow El Mo to keep losing


FORESTVILLE — James Parmeter didn't know everything that had happened Friday night. Why would he? He's only 6, and 6-year-olds have the incredible, unmatched capacity for single focus. The family home could be burning around them but they are screaming for the popsicle that was promised them. Friday night James wanted to be the ball boy for his dad's El Molino football team, when the Lions were to play Justin-Siena, except James forget to ask Randy if he could.

So now it's 15 minutes after the game and James is throwing a tantrum. He's kicking his dad in the shins, wailing about not being the ball boy, and Randy is standing there, smiling, telling his son to let him know next time. It's OK, bud, just let me know. You can be the ball boy next game. No problem.

James is having none of it. He continues to kick dad in the shins.

Randy continues to smile, his voice still comforting, his emotions under control.

Remarkable.

Not that James is whacking away at dad. Six-year-olds do this to the ones they love.

No, the scene was remarkable because of what dad just experienced. His Lions had just been beaten, 54-0. His Lions had 15 yards of total offense in the first half. Parmeter and his Justin-Siena counterpart, Richard Cotruvo, agreed to a running game clock midway through the third quarter, not waiting for the CIF-stipulated beginning of the fourth quarter.

Justin-Siena gained 375 yards of total offense. El Molino had just 10 after losing five in the second half.

All that could have made Parmeter, 37, a little crabby, a little edgy. In fact, Parmeter could have been popping a vein after what happened with 10:15 left in the fourth quarter.

Brent Rivera, one of his five linemen and a good kid, was caught at the bottom of a dog pile after a play. They heard a bone snap, his teammates would say later. The kind of snap where no one has to guess the origin of the sound. Anyone who has heard a bone snap will never forget it. Rivera's left leg had been broken, possibly in more than one place. Rivera had broken his collarbone wrestling the year before. Now this. Who said life was fair?

The game was stopped for 30 minutes. Medical personnel stabilized Rivera, placed him on a gurney and carried him to a waiting ambulance. Rivera left the field with his teammates rushing over to his side, offering seemingly the most benign yet welcome of greetings, the one that said they care.

The Lions now had 18 players.

All this was on Randy Parameter's mind as his son was treating his father's leg like a soccer ball.

Away from the spotlight, after the fans and the team long had left the field, Parmeter had no audience to please. He was doing what comes naturally for him. He was treating people with respect, with an even-tempered voice, with a look to the future, to a better day, be it as a ball boy or a more competitive football team. Those guys are defending North Coast Section Division 4 champs, Parmeter told his players after the game. They are good. We knew that. We learn. We grow. We get better.

"I will succeed," Parmeter said while his son was kicking him. "I won't fail. It's not in my DNA."

El Molino will not remain on the bottom of the football dog pile, Parmeter is adamant about that. Rome wasn't built in a day and El Mo's rise to respectability won't be, either. It will take time but Parmeter will be there to take every step with his players, providing the energy and the willpower. At this point the kids on his team and the kids who will be on his team should know something about the man who will make this happen.

"Honestly, when Randy left here (as a student)," said John Thomas, an El Molino English teacher and Parmeter's junior varsity coach, "I thought he would go back to Cazadero and be with the rest of the Parmeters and stay in the family logging business. I didn't think he would go on with football. But through sheer determination, hard work and perseverance he made himself a better athlete after he left El Molino. He became faster, got bigger."

A defensive back, Parmeter played for SRJC and was a two-year starter at Humboldt State. Parmeter was a self-made player. If he was arrogant — and he's not — Parmeter could display himself for his players as the working example of what can be accomplished through sweat equity. He had gifts but they weren't spectacular except for one — the will to find out how good he could become.

"That's my goal here, to maximize everyone's potential," Parmeter said.

As a player Parmeter didn't want to wake up one day and wonder what he could have been. He wants the same simple goal for his players, and they will find, as he did, that journey to self-knowledge will last long after football.

"What can happen if you work hard?" he said. "What will you achieve? Just don't show up (for life). Take ownership of your actions. Be responsible. Be accountable. Be respectful."

Life is not for spectators, Parmeter is saying. Like football, life is work. It's to engage, on the field and off it. It's to participate. Parmeter wants his football players to think they are laying a foundation that they can stand on, not for this week, not for this season, but for the rest of their lives.

And never forget where you were when all this started.

"The team went 2-8 and 0-10 my junior and senior years at El Molino," Parmeter said. "So I always have had a chip on my shoulder. My brother Kevin won the Apple Bowl all four years he was here. So it can be done. I want it done again. Yes, I take it personally. Ever since this school has been open (50 years) there's almost always been a Parmeter here. So this is personal to me."

Parmeter is loyal to the cause and the cause is not him. It's the school. It's the players. It's his son. It's not a scam. Friday night Parmeter had every reason to make it about him. How disappointed he was. How they let him down. How they didn't learn a thing. He could have said all that but he didn't. Boys, he was saying, there's always tomorrow. And I'll be there to show you the way.

(You can reach Staff Columnist Bob Padecky at 521-5223 or bob.padecky@pressdemocrat.com.)