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Parsons retires from Clarion coaching job

Photo courtesy of Clarion University athletics - Margaret “Gie” Parsons, a Gateway graduate, is retiring as the women’s basketball head coach at Clarion University after 25 years at the helm.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Photo courtesy of Clarion University athletics</em></div>Margaret “Gie” Parsons, a Gateway graduate, is retiring as the women’s basketball head coach at Clarion University after 25 years at the helm.
Photo courtesy of Clarion University athletics - Gateway graduate Margaret “Gie” Parsons won 352 games as the head coach of the Clarion University women’s basketball team. She guided the Golden Eagles to 20 or more wins five times, three PSAC championships and two appearances in the NCAA Division II Elite 8.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Photo courtesy of Clarion University athletics</em></div>Gateway graduate Margaret “Gie” Parsons won 352 games as the head coach of the Clarion University women’s basketball team. She guided the Golden Eagles to 20 or more wins five times, three PSAC championships and two appearances in the NCAA Division II Elite 8.

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Margaret “Gie” Parsons graduated from Gateway High School in 1967, and her love of basketball as a player and coach was fostered in the gyms of the East Suburbs before she departed Monroeville on a journey in the sport that spanned more than four decades.

That journey took her first to Slippery Rock as a player for two seasons, then to teaching and coaching positions in western Pennsylvania, as well as Australia and New Zealand.

Parsons played internationally on a New Zealand club championship team before returning to the U.S. to coach at Slippery Rock and Thiel College.

She became the head women's basketball coach at Clarion in 1989, and she remained in that position for 25 years.

The 2013-14 season was her last at the helm of the Golden Eagles, as she recently announced her retirement.

“I will always follow the kids I have brought into the program. They are great kids, and (telling them of the decision) was the hardest part,” Parsons said.

Parson's 25 years at Clarion brought the school five PSAC-West titles, three PSAC championships, two trips to the NCAA Elite 8, two trips to the NCAA Sweet 16, six NCAA Division II playoff appearances, 12 PSAC playoff berths and an overall record of 352-336.

“I have really enjoyed my 25 years here at Clarion,” she said.

“But I felt the time was right for me to retire.”

Parsons remains employed by the college until May 31, and, she said, she wants to do whatever she can between now and then to help the women's program stay strong.

“I'd like to thank former athletic director Frank Lignelli and President Dr. Charles Leach for having faith in me and giving me this opportunity,” Parsons said.

“I'd also like to thank the assistant coaches and graduate assistants I have been blessed to work with, as well as the talented and quality young women I have had the privilege of coaching. Without them, none of this would have been possible. I still have a close relationship with a lot of former players and that is very rewarding.”

Parsons said she enjoyed the one season working with Gateway graduate and freshman Maria Taylor, who made her debut on the women's basketball team at Clarion this past season.

“A lot of kids got some early playing time, and Maria was one of them,” Parsons said. “It's certainly going to help them down the road. They know what they have to work on. Maria is a great young lady and person. She had a nice start this season.”

This year, Clarion went 11-15 overall and 5-11 (sixth) in the PSAC West and fell short of its goal of making the conference playoffs.

Parsons is one of a few number of Division II coaches with 400 or more victories.

She went 110-73 in eight seasons at Thiel College from 1982 to 1989.

After an 8-18 record in her first year at Clarion (1989-90), she guided the Golden Eagles to a 117-33 mark over the next five campaigns, including a 50-10 mark in the PSAC West. The team won five straight PSAC West titles; PSAC championships in 1991, 1993 and 1994; and made Elite 8 appearances in 1991 and 1994.

Inducted into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame, Western Chapter, in 2011, she was a four-time PSAC West Coach of the Year, the 2005 Russell Athletic/Women's Basketball Coaches Association Region 2 Coach of the Year, the 1991 Converse District 2 Coach of the Year and the winner of the 1992 Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce Lifetime Achievement Award.

Parsons served on the WBCA Board of Directors from 2004 to 2010.

“This is a time to celebrate the outstanding career of Gie Parsons,” Clarion athletic director Dave Katis said.

“We congratulate her on that great career and thank her for her dedicated service to women's basketball and the student athletes that she coached.”

“We would like to thank Gie for her 25 years of dedicated service to Clarion University and to the women's basketball program,” said Karen Whitney, president of Clarion University.

“Her players and teams had many successes on the court and in the classroom during her tenure, and we are all very proud of those accomplishments.”

Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825, at mlove@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Mlove_Trib.

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