Our No. 5 male athlete of the year, Charlie Parker, finished off his senior year with a bang — putting together stellar seasons of leadership as a third-year varsity player and captain of the boys soccer team and third-year state qualifier with the ski team.
All-Conference nods on both the slopes and the pitch and an All-State award from the Michigan High School Soccer Coaches Association inform the competitive impact Parker had on his teams, but few accolades could stand up to his performance in the Lakers’ final week on the soccer field.
Down 2-0 to rival Reeths-Puffer in this year’s district semifinals, after dropping out of the tournament to the Rockets each of the previous three years, Parker and his teammates made a stand, scoring three goals in the final six minutes of play to take the dramatic win.
Parker netted the first two.
“He has always had the leadership skills and gotten the guys to work together,” said Spring Lake varsity soccer coach Jeremy Thelen. “He’s the guy who will circle them up.
“That day there were other players involved — Tommy Fine had both assists — but he was the one who was able to say, ‘We are not going down to these guys again. Not like this.’ And then net two goals.”
The performance showcased an interesting journey for Parker through the varsity ranks after starting his sophomore year on the other end of the field.
“He started with us as an outside back defender as a sophomore,” Thelen said. “He came in and it was one of those fill your role, do your job type of things and he did that well. He moved into the midfield and became a much more important part of our offense with distributing the ball and finished as an attacking midfielder. He would win balls in the middle distribute and find his way to the net.”
His versatility on the pitch comes from well-documented hard work from a young age.
“He is definitely a hard worker — a guy who has put his time in over the years not just at the school but at the club level, as well,” Thelen said. “He puts his time in to make himself better.”
After the Lakers took down Coopersville to clinch their first title since 2015, Parker shed his cleats for boots and took to the ski hill — a familiar place for the Parker family.
Joining his younger brother, Aidan, as a freshman on the team and their father, Tim, as the head coach, Parker looked to repeat his All-State caliber junior season in his fourth and final as a member of the varsity ski team.
A third trip to the state finals marked the season as a success, with an All-Conference nod along the way to sweeten the deal. At the finals, Parker finished 33rd overall in the Slalom and 36th in the Giant Slalom, leading the Lakers in both events.
His expertise on the slopes, like the soccer pitch, comes from years of dedicated practice and careful attention to detail.
“I would describe his skiing as very technical,” said Spring Lake coach Tim Parker. “There are certain skiers that look unorthodox but are fast. He has clean technique and ability.
“He has been ski racing from a young age, starting around 6. It is our main pastime as a family and he really took to it. It’s many years of training and hard work not just with the high school team but with other racing teams. It takes early mornings and dedication and just time spent racing gates.
“It has always been his hard work that has gotten him places.
“It was really a great honor to be able to coach him and Aidan at the same time for one year. As a father, it is awesome to be able to coach your kid at that level. It is a little different than TYSO soccer when they are six or seven years old.”