One by one, Parkway softball players filed into the Panthers’ field House around noon Tuesday some with turned up lips as if to start crying, while others made their way over to newly named Parkway head football coach Neil May to extend congratulations.
“I’m so proud for you, coach May,” said softball manager Olivia Cheatham, while doling out a Neil May-sized hug.
That happened just moments after the self-proclaimed “south Bossier guy” was elevated from defensive coordinator to the top spot by first-year Parkway principal Waylon Bates.
“I’ve lived in south Bossier for the past 20 years – I live two miles from the school – and I married a south Bossier girl (Erin Russell),” May told The Times. “I feel very blessed and thankful to the Parkway administration for this opportunity.”
May has been the defensive coordinator at the school for the past eight seasons under David Feaster, who was recently removed as the football coach. He played offensive tackle at Evangel for Denny Duron, was hired at Captain Shreve by Joe Ferguson and coached for eight seasons as a Gator for coach Ivy.
“Denny taught me how to love kids and that’s the first thing we try to teach here at Parkway,” May said in an earlier interview. “He was the first grown man, not a family member, to walk up, hug me and tell me he loves me.”
May was hired from a solid group of candidates according to Bates, who released the following statement: “Our committee conducted a detailed and thorough search for selecting a new head football coach. Coach Neil May demonstrates vision and plans to meet the needs of the Parkway High School football program. His dedication to our school, students, and athletes will continue to keep Parkway a successful program and move us forward.”
May’s daughter, Bailey, is a sophomore danceline member at Parkway, his son, Peyton is a sixth grader at Elm Grove Middle School and Erin teaches at Sun City Elementary.
May will continue to work with the softball program for the foreseeable future. The team played at Airline Tuesday night and will head to Tioga for a tournament this weekend.
“I owe it to the girls to do the best I can for them going forward, but this softball program is in great hands whether or not I’m involved in it,” he said.
Former Centenary standout Bonnie Matak is a Parkway assistant, along with Beth and Mac Plummer and Alexis Loftin, a former Panther player. Former Captain Shreve and Byrd softball coach is on the Parkway baseball staff.
As football coach, May will inherit some considerable talent with top national recruits Terrace Marshall and quarterback Justin Rogers heading into their senior campaigns.
The Panthers finished 11-2 last season advancing to the LHSAA Class 5A quarterfinals where they lost 61-21 to Landry-Walker.