Coach Ben Parks named to sports hall of fame
Another honor is ahead for Ben Parks, a former football and wrestling coach at Menlo-Atherton High School in Atherton, an ardent fundraiser for needy families, and a noted mentor and friend to students on the M-A campus.
Coach Parks, 72, will be inducted in the San Mateo County Sports Hall of Fame on June 21, said M-A PTA co-president Leslie Airola-Murveit.
The ceremony includes a banquet at the San Mateo Elks Lodge at 229 West 20th Ave. in San Mateo. Tickets are $50 per person. Make checks payable to Sports Hall of Fame and mail to John Horgan c/o The San Mateo Times, 1080 S. Amphlett Boulevard, San Mateo, CA 94402.
Proceeds benefit the San Mateo County History Museum, also home to the Sports Hall of Fame. Other hall members from M-A include Pam Wimberly, girls' basketball coach and athletic director; swimmer Dick Roth; former track coach Plato Yanicks; and Lars Jensen, an M-A wrestler who went on to win a national title as wrestling coach at San Francisco State University.
Ben Parks grew up under the care of his grandmother in Hollister among poor migrant field workers, according to a biographical entry on a Web site for M-A's Sports Hall of Fame. Mr. Parks went on to graduate in 1957 from the College of the Pacific.
He began his career at M-A in 1968 as head football coach and wrestling coach. He taught physical education and was a vice principal for two years, the biography says.
He's been an active fundraiser for needy families, using such vehicles as a celebrity golf tournament and an annual birthday event in which he used to run a mile for each year of his age.
Coach Parks made a practice of leading group visits to tenant housing, migrant worker camps, and inner-city neighborhoods to deliver food, clothing, blankets, furniture, and Thanksgiving and Christmas turkeys, the biography says.