WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – Seriously, if you were a head coach of a Williams College team would you trust the health and care of your athletes to a man who grew up in Amherst, Massachusetts and gasp! graduated from archrival Amherst College?
Surprisingly that's exactly what the Williams College Athletic Department did back in 1987 when they enlisted James Parkinson, MD to serve as the Eph team physician.
On April 10 at 5:00 p.m. in the UMass-Amherst Student Union Hall Jim Parkinson (aka "Doc") will receive the Henry A. Butova Award from the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame, Western Mass. Chapter.
The award is presented to a former football player, or man, who is devoted to the game of football, resides in the Western Massachusetts area and who has distinguished himself in later life.
|A native of Amherst,
MA, Jim Parkinson has
now lived in Williams-
town longer than he
did in Amherst.
Parkinson was All-Western Mass. in 1964 while starring at Amherst Regional High School. The first time Parkinson touched the ball in a high school game on a kick-off return against Mt. Greylock HS [Williamstown, MA] as a sophomore, he scored a TD! He also scored the first time he touched the ball at Amherst College !! He scored on a 66-yard punt return versus the Bowdoin Polar Bears.
For 28 years Parkinson has cared for Eph athletes and attended hundreds of Williams athletic contests in case his expertise and assistance was required. Who can forget the night that Jim Parkinson stitched up the eyebrow of Eph superstar hoopster Michael Nogelo so Nogelo could return to the floor and lead the Ephs to an NCAA Tournament win over Trinity, or the efforts Parkinson most recently put forth in helping Eph standout center Troy Whittington bounce back from a metacarpal fracture in his hand to compete in the recent national basketball semifinals in Salem, VA?
In 2004 in Salem Williams defeated Amherst in the national semifinals and the next day one of the Amherst players was injured and needed stitches to continue in the consolation game. The Amherst team doctor did not have what was needed to get the job done, but Parkinson did and he stitched up the Lord Jeff so he could return to action.
If you pry you might get Parkinson to relate the story of an injured Tufts football player whose parents got a rude awakening upon arriving back in the Boston area to consult with a local doctor rather than accompany Parkinson to nearby North Adams Regional Hospital. Upon learning of the injury and where it occurred the doctor being consulted asked, "Wasn't Jim Parkinson at the game? He's one of the best orthopedic surgeons around."
"He always took very good care of the Williams athletes in spite of his undergraduate experience at Amherst," noted former Eph head football coach Dick Farley who received the Butova Award in 2003. "He was a confidante and a good friend. I was the coach and he was the doctor – whatever he said about an injured player was the way we were going to do it."
Fortunately the old bromide of "time heals all wounds" is true and to date Jim Parkinson has now resided in Williamstown longer than he ever lived in Amherst. Not only that, he unabashedly roots for the Ephs now that his wife Karen works in the Admissions Office and his daughter Becca graduated as an in 2000.
Each year prior to the Williams –Amherst football game Parkinson dons a baseball hat he had made for the occasion at the Williams Sideline QB Club luncheon when he predicts the winner of the game upcoming on Saturday. The hat has two bills on it – one with an Amherst A and one with a Williams W. As he starts talking he wears the hat so that one bill is over each ear. When he gets done with his game analysis he turns the hat to show the letter of the team he expects to win the game.
"In the early years as Williams team "Doc" I was often conflicted, especially at "The Biggest Little Game in America" on the second Saturday of every November," noted Parkinson. "As time progressed the "Stockholm Syndrome," combined with accidentally drinking the Williams purple Kool Aid clarified the issue. I'm still "Bipolar" but I'm old enough now so some allegiances in my past are inaccessible in the "bad sectors" of my hard drive."
"The Williams-Amherst rivalry has been part of my life since I was sneaking into games at Amherst's Pratt Field at age nine," commented Parkinson. "These two schools are so similar that if they were to breed it would be incest. The question is which school would provide the dominant genes and that question gets contested each year on the various sports fields. I guess the offspring would be the Lord JEPHS."
Parkinson graduated from Amherst College in 1969 with a BA in psychology and chemistry and then he earned a Master's in physiology at UMass-Amherst (1974), before graduating from the University of Rochester School of Medicine in 1978.
Currently Parkinson, who continues to reside in Williamstown, holds an academic appointment in the Department of Surgery at Albany Medical College and a Clinical Professorship instructing residents at Stratton Veterans Administration Medical Center.