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Parson named Mystics coach

July 26, 1998|By DAVE McMILLION and JULIE E. GREENEs

Cathy Parson's basketball success story began a new chapter Thursday when she was promoted to the head coaching position for the struggling Washington Mystics.

Parson, a Hagerstown native, took the reigns as interim head coach when Jim Lewis was fired from the job.

The Mystics' 2-16 record was the worst in the Women's National Basketball Association, and general manager Wes Unseld said the team was "not putting out the effort on the floor."

"I'm not saying it was all his fault. It just wasn't happening. I felt it was time to make a move," Unseld said.

Parson's friends and family members in Hagerstown were overjoyed at the opportunity afforded the local basketball star.

"I think the girls will respond to her," said her brother Tom Parson, who lives in Hagerstown. "She knows the game. That's her love, basketball," he said.

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Jim Brown, men's basketball coach at Hagerstown Community College, said anyone who knows Parson has to be proud of her for rising to that level of coaching.

Parson will take over as interim head coach until the rest of the season, starting with Sunday's home game against Sacramento.

Parson could not be reached for comment, but in an interview in March when she was named assistant coach of the Mystics, she said the job was a great opportunity to express who she is in sports.

"I feel like I have been a pioneer all my life," Parson said at the time.

Parson, a 1979 North Hagerstown High School graduate, played for West Virginia University. When she graduated in 1984, she was the Lady Mountaineers' all-time leading scorer.

Before joining the Mystics, Parson was head women's basketball coach and assistant athletic director at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Va.

Parson was named Dixie Conference coach of the year three times and took Christopher Newport University to the second round of the NCAA Division III basketball tournament in the 1997-98 season.

Parson came from a family of six sisters and one brother.

Tom Parson said he was the first among the children to play basketball. He said Cathy would come to Hagerstown Junior College, now Hagerstown Community College, to watch him play.

Parson's sister Sylvia also was a top basketball player in high school and college.

"I taught them, man. I taught them how to play hard," said Tom Parson.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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