Tony Parrilla talks about becoming Carson-Newman's cross-country coach
In explaining himself as Carson-Newman University’s cross country coach, Tony Parrilla told a story to his runners that essentially began in once-upon-a-time fashion.
“About 20 years ago and about 25 pounds ago, I had an ego about what I do,” he said. “I don’t have that ego now.
“... It’s not about me and now it’s all about these athletes and their experiences. Everything I did is now a side note.”
Parrilla, a 10-time track and field All-American at the University of Tennessee, was introduced Tuesday by C-N athletic director Allen Morgan. Parrilla, a two-time Olympian, won four NCAA championships in the 800 meters, more than any other collegian. He still holds the Tennessee record for the event (1 minute, 43.97 seconds).
Parrilla grew up in Panama with soccer as his first sporting love. That changed when he moved to the United States and became a top middle distance prospect at South Dade High in Homestead, Fla.
Morgan described the hire as “an absolute home run” and said Parrilla will boost Carson-Newman’s quest to become “the premier Christian Division II athletic program in the Southeast.”
Parrilla’s arrival coincides with track and field getting up to speed as a South Atlantic Conference sport. Morgan said that C-N has formed a committee to scout potential sites to build a track.
While he won’t be listed officially as a track assistant, Parrilla will be helping David Needs, C-N’s director of track and cross country.
All of these developments have factored into Parrilla’s feelings about his new job.
“This is an unbelievable opportunity,” he said. “This is exactly where I need to be. It’s almost a calling.
“I just realized the direction they want to go is a direction that really suits what I can do.”
Parrilla said that his coaching experience consists of club and AAU work as well as a stint at Christian Academy of Knoxville. He works as a massage therapist and has a background in personal training and fitness instruction. He referred to himself as an “eternal teacher” and thinks his strength will be an ability to relate to his athletes.
“I have a lot to give and I want to give a lot,” Parrilla said. “I find myself getting better the more I give. I have to be a lot sharper.”
Parrilla said his only initial concern involved administrative duties. No matter, he professed to be worry-free.
“I’m just so bright-eyed about what the future holds,” he said, “that I don’t consider anything as a negative.”