Parker steps in at last minute

By David Paulsen


For Ben Cooper, the opportunity to own a resort in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula was simply too good to pass up. It meant that a long-time dream could be fulfilled.

Pursuing the dream, though, meant that Cooper would need to resign his positions as head football coach and counselor at Whitewater High School. On July 23, Cooper notified the Whitewater School District and Whitewater High School athletic director Jeff Behrens.

Doug Parker

“It was a total surprise,” Behrens said. “His resignation came exactly two weeks before the season began.”

One week later, on July 30, Behrens and District Administrator Eric Runez named WHS Principal Doug Parker as the interim head coach for the Whippet football team.

Parker had served as the head football coach at WHS from 2003-2009, while also serving as the athletic director. Cooper had served the past two seasons as the Whippet head coach.

Behrens emphasized that Parker will serve just one year as interim head coach. After the season is over, a new head coach will be sought.

“We will do both an internal and external search,” Behrens said. “We will definitely consider our options and do a thorough search.”

Because of his extensive duties as principal, Parker will rely heavily on his assistants, who are already in place and have been preparing for the upcoming season. Behrens noted that the offensive and defensive coordinators will run the offense and defense, respectively.

The Whippets begin action on Friday, Aug. 24, against Palmyra-Eagle at Perkins Stadium at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

The Whippet football squad has struggled recently, going 2-7 in each of the last two seasons Cooper was head coach.

“He had done a good job of trying to move our program forward,” Behrens said. “Unfortunately, we just haven’t had the athletes the last couple of years.”

Cooper indicated that he and his wife, Karla, managed a resort in Door County during their college years. They have been vacationing in the Upper Peninsula for many years, especially in the Munising area.

Seven or eight years ago, the Coopers purchased a camp in that area, but have always had a dream of owning a resort.

“We’ve been absolutely in love with that area for years,” Ben said.

Karla, who is a fifth-grade teacher at Lakeview Elementary School in Whitewater, and the couple’s two younger children, Andy and Rachel, will remain in Whitewater for this school year. They plan to move to the U.P. next summer.

Ben will take over the Buckhorn Resort, located about 10 miles south of Munising on Buckhorn Drive, later this fall.

The resort overlooks Hovey Lake and includes a restaurant, lounge, rental cabins and a 20-unit motel. It is located directly on Groomed Trail No. 7.

“We’re definitely happy for him and his family,” Behrens said.


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