Lynda Pariso will retire in June after 41 years, bringing to a close a physical education (PE) teaching and coaching career that touched the lives of generations of children at Morgan Park Academy.
Over the course of her career, Pariso taught PE classes for all ages and led PE curriculum development, and coached several sports. She served as Director of Athletics for the past 21 years.
“I don’t know how it will feel to enter the gym and not see Coach Pariso,” said Head of School Mercedes Z. Sheppard, a colleague for 25 years. “Lynda has left her mark on MPA and will be dearly missed.”
Pariso coached volleyball and basketball early in her MPA career, but her first passion was softball, the sport she played at Indiana State University — reaching the College World Series in 1976 — and with the Terre Haute Chevettes, a traveling team that won Indiana amateur championships and earned a place in the Indiana ASA Hall of Fame.
At MPA, Pariso founded a softball dynasty. In 23 seasons as head coach (1981-2000, 2005-2007), she won seven Independent School League (ISL) championships and five ISL Coach of the Year awards, coached four ISL Players of the Year, and enjoyed one undefeated season.
As MPA Director of Athletics Pariso oversaw a sports program that produced dozens of individual and team championships. She was inducted into the MPA Athletic Hall of Fame in 2012.
Two years ago, the Illinois Athletic Directors Association selected her as an Athletic Director of the Year, recognizing her “commitment, desire, loyalty, character, and leadership qualities to administer a high school athletic program which exemplifies the highest standards of discipline, honesty, and dignity.”
“I have loved every part of being a teacher, coach and colleague at this wonderful institution,” Pariso said. “I have so many fond memories of my players that I coached, memories that will be with me forever. Being able to teach a young athlete about life through sports creates a special bond.”
Pariso will be succeeded as Director of Athletics by PE teacher and coach Vinson C. Williams, who has directed Lower & Middle School athletics for the past several years. Williams, an MPA alumnus, is also is member of the MPA Athletic Hall of Fame.