The student news site of Francis W. Parker School

The Parker Weekly

The student news site of Francis W. Parker School

The Parker Weekly

The student news site of Francis W. Parker School

The Parker Weekly

Sayonara Starks

Athletic Director Bobby Starks to start new athletic program at Bennett Day School
Athletic+Director+Bobby+Starks+announces+senior+night+for+the+boys+tennis+team+at+Waveland+Tennis+Courts.
Photo credit: Cameron Routenberg
Athletic Director Bobby Starks announces senior night for the boys tennis team at Waveland Tennis Courts.

After serving as Parker’s Athletic Director for nine years, Bobby Starks will continue his legacy at Bennett Day School as the Director of Athletics and Co-curriculars. Bennett Day School was founded in 2014 and is also a K-12 school. It’s much smaller than Parker, with 350 students, compared to Parker’s 940. “It’s a really unique opportunity for me to start a whole new athletics program there from a clean slate,” Starks said. 

Currently, Bennett Day School has a few teams and co-curriculars, but they don’t have a full schedule and only meet once or twice a week. “Parker and Bennett Day School are similar,” Starks said, “I will take the expertise that I acquired at Parker and apply it to the Athletics program at Bennett.” One of the ideas that Starks emphasizes is strategic planning. “At Parker, we are currently reimagining our mission values and strategic plan for athletics, and that’s something that I think is very important for the student-athletes,” he said. Starks wants to continue to grow the program over time but doesn’t feel like he needs to rush anything. 

Newly elected Boys Student Athletic Council Head Lincoln Hamid worked closely with Starks throughout Middle School and Upper School. “Mr. Starks consistently shows a lot of care for our teams and players,” Hamid said. “He always shows up to big games and signing days, and he has a very close relationship with many of the student-athletes.” Hamid has worked with Starks closer than ever this year as a Boys Baseball Captain, a position that he will serve in again next year. “I feel like next year is going to be a lot different, but I’m excited and hope I can help bring a positive culture change to Parker Sports,” Hamid said.

Noah Pendo, a Tennis Captain and varsity golfer has also worked closely with Starks. “Mr. Starks was known among the students as one of the most effective and diligent athletic directors ever,” Pendo said. “He always got things done in a very timely manner and was always open to new ideas.”

Ellen Sandquist served as the Assistant Director of Athletics this year, after serving for many years as the school’s Operations Coordinator. She has also coached at Parker and has always been involved with the Athletics Department. “Mr. Starks has always been great to work with because he is so amiable, and he stays positive during stressful situations,” Sandquist said. There have been many challenges that the athletic department has dealt with over the past few years, such as COVID-19 and the introduction of new club sports, but together, Starks and Sandquist have overcome them.

“Many traditions have been started during Mr. Starks’s tenure here at Parker, such as the White Out pep rally MX and the Spring Showcase at IIT,” Sandquist said. “I’m sure those traditions will continue to grow even after he leaves.” 

Starks has worked closely with student-athletes who have wanted to start their own teams for sports or activities that have been more unrecognized at Parker. “When I look back at my time at Parker, a lot of the success has come from starting the Scholastic Bowl, Squash team, and Chess team to reach out to different student-athletes who may not have gotten involved before,” Starks said. Although they are new, those three teams have brought a lot of success to Parker. “It’s been really nice to see the rise of some of our activities, such as Scholastic Bowl and Chess,” Sandquist said.

As his time as the athletic director nears its end, Starks has been reflecting on his legacy at Parker. “I want to finish this spring season strong so that when the new athletic director comes in, they can be as successful as possible with things already in place,” Starks said.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Deven Gupta
Deven Gupta, Staff Director
Deven is an incoming senior and will be serving as the Staff Director this year. Deven has been on "The Weekly" for all four years and also enjoys playing golf.