Boasting Division I coaching and playing experience, a stellar athletic and academic record of achievement, it's no surprise that Melissa Parker was added to coach Carol Owens' Northern Illinois University coaching staff.
A prep standout for Elgin High School prior to a stellar career with the Illini, Parker joined the NIU staff after spending the previous three years at Loyola University of Chicago under Mary Helen Walker. Prior to Loyola, Parker served as a graduate assistant at Florida State University from 2000-02, when ex-Huskie aide Sue Semrau turned around the Lady Seminole program.
FSU was 32-27 during Parker's time in Tallahassee as Florida State reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament in 2000-01. One of the regular-season highlights included a 71-69 triumph over then No. 4-ranked Duke University as the Seminoles put together a 19-12 campaign.
"Originally, I knew about Melissa as a player when recruiting for Notre Dame, and then coach Semrau talked to me about her at the Final Four," Owens said. "She's yet another member of our staff with good contacts in Illinois and Chicago. She's eager, very organized and an extremely hard worker."
Parker started her first 16 games with the University of Illinois and won the Ralf Woods Free Throw Award as a frosh in 1997. Coming back from an ankle injury, Parker played in three NCAA contests for the 1996-97 Illini unit that claimed its only Big Ten Conference title (12-4). That 24-8 season was also the first of two NCAA Sweet Sixteen appearances and four straight NCAA showings for the Illini during her tenure.
Parker still ranks third on the Illinois career three-pointers made list with 135. She made 66 from 1998-99, representing the second-best single-season tally. She earned the 1999 Lillian Speck Courtsiders Award which recognizes the combination of leadership, academics and ability. The winner of the George Huff Academic Award in 1999-2000, Parker missed the second half of her senior season due to a post-concussion syndrome injury.
She was recently inducted into the Elgin Sports Hall of Fame for her accomplishments at Elgin High School.
Parker graduated from Illinois in 2000 with a degree in leisure studies and sports management before earning a master's degree in physical education from Florida State in 2002.