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Stories / "My Mentor"

Justin Parnell

Oregon Tech Associate Head Coach for Men's Basketball shares his story here...

My Mentor… From the time I could first walk, basketball was my life. I had dreams of playing in college and eventually coaching. In the summer of 2008 those dreams came to a halt. I had left Northwest Nazarene after my sophomore year with no plans in mind. One phone call with Danny Miles changed everything. He not only wanted me to play basketball for Oregon Tech but he also offered me a scholarship and he reminded me of the energy I once had. I went from having no interest in playing college basketball anymore to packing my bags for Klamath Falls – I couldn’t get in the gym fast enough. The mentoring had just begun.

I had heard stories about “The General” from numerous people. I knew he was a phenomenal coach, with hundreds of wins and 2 national championships. What I wasn’t aware of was the level of character he held himself to, as well as his players. I learned so much on and off the court. All of which I have used in my career. From scrimmaging with Special Olympics teams, dining with the wonderful folks at Crystal Terrace, reading to kids at Pelican Elementary, and always treating everyone with respect. As Coach says, “every day’s a job interview”. All of this has served me and every single one of my teammates greatly in life – and you better believe we are 15 minutes early to everything, . I can go on and on about the various ways coach has mentored and influenced me. Here are the 3 most important things I have taken from coach.

  1. The Importance of ‘Community Involvement'

  2. The Power of 'Optimism and Being Positive'

  3. The Importance of 'Culture'

After graduation, I was fortunate enough to coach two years with Danny at Oregon Tech. I saw a different side to him. I guess you could say I saw the ‘method to his madness’. I’ve always been so impressed how his players and coaches are involved in the community. The demand college academics and athletics present for the players is extremely tough, especially at Oregon Tech. We were Oregon Tech Guys, and we were going to be there because we knew how important it was to the community as well as our team. It’s no secret why Oregon Tech Basketball leads the country in attendance. I’ll never forget those memories.

As one of Danny’s Assistants, I have always appreciated how positive and optimistic he is. I remember in my second year coaching we had just lost a heartbreaker at home – we never lost at home! I can remember walking into the office the next morning and coach was already there, fired up and had a plan that would get us back on track and possibly the ‘best team he’s ever had.’ I’ve always appreciated that day. Think about all of the Post Game Coaches Shows you have listened to. Have you ever heard Danny talk negatively? Has he ever put down a kid? Referee? Opposing coach? His optimism and positive outlook is so important to me.

I always knew I wanted to coach in college. It’s been a dream of mine since as far as I can remember. About a year ago I asked Danny, “If you could give me one piece of advice for running a program, what would it be?” Danny quickly responded, “Build your culture, and don’t budge”. Danny has created an outstanding culture of Oregon Tech Guys. He’s stuck by it, and holds every single one of his players to that standard. There are numerous stories of players breaking into tears when Danny tells them they’re finally at Oregon Tech Guy. I can remember exactly where I was sitting when Coach told me I was an Oregon Tech Guy.

Coach didn’t have to give me a chance to play basketball – his team would have been fine without me. But he did. He also didn’t have to take me on an assistant coach. But he did. I’m so grateful for all that coach has done for me. His mentorship is one of the biggest reasons I’m where I am today. Thank you, Coach.