Red Stars assistant coach Scott Parkinson walked into Pleasant House Pub, a bar he frequents in his Chicago neighborhood, and ordered bangers and mash and a beer.
Analyzing Parkinson’s order and location, nothing appeared out of the ordinary, but this rainy afternoon was not like others.
He looked down at his meal, then up at his surroundings and thought maybe he should have gone to get a hot dog. He had just completed his oath ceremony surrounded by strangers from different countries who were all becoming American citizens.
“They had us all sat outside under a huge American flag,” Parkinson said. “The judge came out and said he was in our seat 30 years ago in Miami. At the end, he said, ‘Welcome home,’ and gave us a certificate like we were at a soccer camp.”
Parkinson didn’t start playing soccer until he was nearly 10, which is late for a boy growing up in Liverpool, England. His uncle coached soccer camps over the summer, and Parkinson picked the game up there. He eventually began playing with Everton FC’s youth team.
After the team released him at 17, he said he really fell in love with the game because the pressure was off.
Parkinson spent his early 20s balancing school, working as an engineer and playing semi-professional soccer. By day, he worked in a manufacturing plant for Jaguar Land rover as part of an apprenticeship, but by night he was on the pitch.
The whole time, his closest friends and family were telling him his future was in soccer.
He ended up in Oklahoma City visiting a friend he grew up playing soccer with who had opted to pursue a scholarship at an NAIA college. Parkinson couldn’t believe the luxuries he was seeing.
Everything from the way the program fed its players to the facilities was more professional than that of most pro teams in England, Parkinson said.
“The minute I saw [that environment], I thought, ‘This is it. I can do this,’ ” Parkinson said.
Parkinson’s 12-year journey to becoming an American citizen started at that moment.
At 24, he sold his house in Liverpool and his car and gave up on his engineering career to move to Chickasha, Oklahoma.
He accepted a scholarship to play soccer at the University of Science and Arts of -Oklahoma and began his pursuit of becoming a coach.
After graduating, Parkinson spent the next few years working his way up the coaching ranks, starting at the youth level. He became the coach of the Rogers State women’s soccer program in 2016.
His jump from the NCAA to the National Women’s Soccer League happened under similar circumstances as his move from Liverpool to Chickasha. Parkinson was once again on a trip. This time, it was a coaching seminar in Arizona, where he met the United States women’s national under-20 team coach, Laura Harvey.
At the time, Harvey was coaching OL Reign, and after meeting Parkinson, she offered him a job.
“It didn’t quite work out [with OL Reign],” Parkinson said. “But we stayed in contact. When she took the job in Utah, she called me again.”
Parkinson made the jump from Division II collegiate soccer to the professional level in 2018. He left his position in Utah to become Rory Dames’ lead assistant in 2020.
It was another career move that happened with divine timing.
Parkinson’s wife was the first person he met on campus at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma. The two were married in 2014, which allowed Parkinson to remain in the United States on a two-year green card that transitioned to a 10-year green card.
He began the process of pursuing full citizenship last May.
His goal is to represent the U.S. women’s national team, but he isn’t distracted by that dream. Parkinson’s career has been all about being in the right place at the right time.
He’s confident what’s for him won’t miss him.
“I wanted to feel like I wasn’t just representing the best team in the world, but I was representing my country,” Parkinson said. “That would make [the dream] feel even more special. If and when that day comes.”