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Life lessons shared by a coach and his protégé

This MSU graduate's philosophy on coaching is pretty simple: Be committed, put in the work and achieve success.

His teams, at first Galena High School and later Robert McQueen High School in Reno, Nev., have personified this.

"We have been very successful on the track, and that is a tribute to the athletes I coached and the assistant coaches who worked with me over the years," Ed Parise '96 said.

But this simplistic mantra extended past the stars on his teams and affected others who have been around the former Minot State University football player.

One such person is Tony Rolle, who was diagnosed with autism at three years of age. He has spent time both as a participant and as an assistant coach with Parise but has come to know the coach as much more.

Rolle heard about Parise from his grandparents, Milton '60 and Bonnie '71 Rolle of Minot. Since both Parise and Milton Rolle are Minot State graduates, Rolle concluded that Parise must be a good person.

Tony Rolle

"I think of Tony as a colleague, someone to talk with, someone who will correct him and help him. I want him to get a career, to be successful," Parise said.

The life lessons started almost immediately after Parise began teaching and coaching at McQueen in 2007.

"When I got here, Tony would spend more time at the concession stand than competing, and I told him that if he was going to be a part of the track team he was going to compete," Parise said.

After that, Rolle, whom they call "Mr. McQueen," became a mainstay of the track and field program. It began with him becoming Parise's assistant coach.

Parise began his college career at North Dakota State University but got mononucleosis his first year and returned to Minnesota. After two years in coaching, he decided to attend North Hennepin Community College and play football. His play at NHCC earned him a scholarship to Minot State.

"I really learned that you don't have to go right out of high school or follow a certain path to be successful," he said.

While the wins will likely keep piling up for Parise, it is the success of students like Rolle off the track that gives him the most satisfaction.

"One of my goals is to get athletes to compete at the next level, to help them get the opportunity I got," Parise said. "But, ultimately, I just want them to be successful. I hope that we are teaching life lessons as well as track lessons."

To read this story in its entirety or more like it, visit the Spring 2012 Connections Magazine [pdf].