Replacing Hailee Parks will be tough task.
Four years ago Missouri S&T women's basketball head coach Alan Eads was looking to replace Lady Miner career scoring leader Tamara McCaskill as the anchor of his squad.
He only had to travel 40 miles east on I-44 to find her.
Now, Eads is again on the search for an anchor to replace that replacement – Hailee Parks.
Parks, a 5-11 forward, earlier this month wrapped up her outstanding S&T playing career.
The former all-stater from Sullivan (Mo.) High School stamped her name prominently in Lady Miner history as one of the program's all-time greats. She is just the second player in the program to achieve more than 1,300 career points and 700 career rebounds, joining Tanya Hough (1984-89).
Four years later, she is extremely pleased with her collegiate decision.
"I wanted to stay close to my family; I wanted my mom and dad to be able to see every game," said Parks, who was a three-time all-state selection at Sullivan High School, where she averaged 21 points and 11 rebounds and was named Four Rivers Conference Player of the Year as a senior. "And I wanted to play for a male coach, someone a little tough."
Parks has earned All-Great Lakes Valley Conference honors the past three seasons, and this season was a unanimous first-ream selection. And she was recently chosen to the All-GLVC Tournament team, as the Lady Miners were eliminated in quarterfinal action by Lewis.
As a senior Parks averaged 14.4 points and 7.8 rebounds.
In her four seasons here the Lady Miners have put together campaigns of 14-14, 20-8, 18-9 and 16-12. As a sophomore she helped the squad advance to the NCAA Division II National Tournament, win the GLVC West Division championship and for the first time in 16 years earn a national ranking.
"We've been successful throughout the years," Parks said. "Especially my sophomore year, making it to the national tournament and winning that conference title."
Except for six outings of her freshman campaign, Parks was a starter her entire 111-game Lady Miner career. She finished with 1,338 points and 733 rebounds for career averages of 12.1 points and 6.6 rebounds at S&T.
Indeed, Parks has been the face of the program the past couple of seasons.
"She's been a very consistent player since her freshman year," Eads said. "And she has only gotten better since her freshman year.
"We signed her right after we lost Tamara McCaskill, and Hailee kind of filled those shoes. Now we've got to find another one."
Parks did put up huge offensive numbers during her S&T career, but she was amazingly consistent most of the time.
"She is deceptive inside," Eads said of Parks. "He's strong inside and can step out and hit the 15-footer."
Since coming from Sullivan Parks has changed her body type, slimming down and, as a result, becoming more of a presence under the basket.
"Hailee has really worked hard in the weight room," Eads said. "We talked to her about it. But the last couple of years she has really done it on her own and has done a great job."
She said her biggest adjustment, naturally, came her first year here.
"My freshman year was a little tough, really more off the court than on," said Parks who is scheduled to graduate in May with a biological sciences degree with an emphasis in pre-medicine. "You don't have your mom there to wake you up for class. But you have more down time than you think. And with my major, it's been a lot easier than some of the other girls who are engineers and have more rigorous coursework."
Now Eads is on the recruiting trail, preparing for Life Without Parks.
"No question, you don't find them every day," he said. "You have got to have a certain type of student-athlete here. We were very fortunate to have Hailee. It's so close her whole family got to watch her and support her."
Four years ago the Lady Miners were on a quest for the next McCaskill.
Now they're looking for the next Parks.