category: Campus News

Two-time Olympian Tony Parrilla likes “unbelievable opportunity” at C-N

(Feb. 24, 2014) – Carson-Newman University Cross-country Coach Jose “Tony” Parrilla has a confession about his ego.

He says his idea of himself was considerable, “about 20 years ago and about 25 pounds ago.” He chuckled, and then added, “I don’t have that ego now.”

One would think earning four NCAA titles in 800 meters, competing in two Olympics and being a 10-time All-American might well swell one’s pride. But time, perspective and life in general have ways of molding students into teachers and competitors into coaches, which is certainly the case for Parrilla.

“It’s not about me; now it’s all about these athletes and their experiences,” he said. “Everything I did is now a side note.”

Growing up in Panama, Parrilla’s first athletic love was soccer. But moving to the United States introduced him to running. As a senior at Florida’s South Dade High School, he ran his way into being recruited nationally with an 800-meter time of 1:50.63.

By 1994, he was a University of Tennessee Volunteer with his third consecutive NCAA 800-meter title, a feat only 1936 Olympic champ John Woodruff had accomplished previously. Twenty years after setting the mark, he still holds Tennessee’s school record of 1:43.97 in the 800.

Parrilla finished third at the 1992 Olympic Trials, earning himself a ticket to Barcelona. He also competed for the U.S. team at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.

Parrilla holds a BA in human motor behavior from UT and earned certifications in myofascial integrative technique and active isolated stretching. He currently studies myoskeletal alignment techniques. His professional experience includes work as an exercise physiologist, fitness instructor and personal trainer.

Having joined the University in July 2013, the Eagles coach says Carson-Newman is a place “that will give you all the tools to become a productive citizen.”

“The direction that Carson-Newman wants to go is the direction that I want to go as a coach,” said Parrilla. “What is being built here – this is an unbelievable opportunity. This is exactly where I need to be.”

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