Photography by Curtis Trent; styling by Erin Monaghan; makeup by Ruth Bancroft; hair by Devon Yurko of Mousy Browns; shot on location at La Dolce Vita Cafe
Look up Lance Parker’s name on Google, and you’ll notice one of the most popular searches is to see if he has a girlfriend (he doesn’t, by the way). But FC Edmonton‘s fiercely dedicated goalkeeper, who is also a part-time model, doesn’t let all the attention on his smouldering good looks go to his head. His focus is on soccer.
After achieving his business degree cum laude on a full academic and athletic scholarship from Missouri State University, he went on to climb the leagues, eventually playing professionally in Major League Soccer (MLS) with Los Angeles-based Chivas USA. Now 27, the Oklahoma City native finds himself in Edmonton from March to November – where he’s discovered a love for the river valley trails, our many festivals, endless summer nights and the friendly people who remind him of home.
Parker jokes he’s not just a pretty face but, after being discovered at LAX airport, he began what is now a successful off-season modelling career including jobs for GQ, Vogue Hommes, Men’s Health, Cosmopolitan and Miller Lite. While he doesn’t talk about this side of himself much in front of his teammates, they all know about it. And being a contender in 2012’s Cosmopolitan Bachelor of the Year contest in particular resulted in some good-natured ribbing.
Parker has a casual style marked by down-to-Earth southern manners, but his sly smile leaves you thinking he may just have a few tricks up his sleeve and, in fact, he does. At age 12, after accepting a challenge from his dad, he began riding the unicycle. He can juggle balls, rings and clubs – and performs magic tricks at pubs and parties, though he admits his magic routine is hit-and-miss with the ladies.
When did you start playing soccer?
I started when I was about four and a half or five years old on one of those rec-league teams. When I turned 12, I ended up having a really special opportunity to go to England for one week to play in a tournament on a team from Oklahoma. That was when I decided this is what I wanted to do.
What has soccer taught you that you use in everyday life?
To work hard at everything I do. Ever since I was young, I have tried to put a 100-per-cent effort into everything I do.
How do you not take it personally when you let in a goal? [A teammate] told me I had to be like a goldfish, because goldfish have really short memories. So if something bad happens, if I make a mistake, I try to forget about it right away.
You got injured during a 2011 game against the Carolina RailHawks. What happened?
I shattered my humerus into 30-something pieces and it snapped completely in half. I tore my tricep tendon in half, and the bone came out the back of my arm. It was just a nasty injury. Paul Hamilton, [a former FC Edmonton player] almost threw up because it looked so bad. They took me to the University of Alberta Hospital and I had to wait 12 hours through the night with my bone sticking out until the surgeon came in and they could operate. He [the doctor] got all of the bone fragments out. He ended up using two metal plates and 15 screws.
How confident do you feel now?
I had to get over that mental barrier of injury still in the back of my head. It’s like, ‘If I land on it funny again, I’m going to screw it up,’ and your body kind of reacts. It took a couple of months to teach myself how to dive in a different way. I definitely feel 100 per cent in tune with my body again. Usually every professional sports player has one serious injury and, hopefully, that’s mine.
In the middle of all this, last year, you were then nominated for Cosmopolitan’s Bachelor of the Year?
I was. My friend asked if she could send in my pictures and my bio. I got a call from somebody at Cosmopolitan saying, ‘We’ve chosen you to represent Oklahoma in our bachelor competition.’ I had never done anything like that before. I had already done some modelling. It was a lot of fun. They were a great bunch of guys. They did a great job of picking.
How many years have you been modelling now?
Four to five years, on and off.
Do you have to turn down modelling jobs during the soccer season?
Yes, I’ve had to turn down a lot of good paying jobs because soccer is my number-one priority. Soccer will always come first. I was lined up for two jobs right before I broke my arm and one was a Ralph Lauren Polo fragrance campaign, so my broken arm put a stop to that.
If you had your own fragrance what would it be called?
Boogie. It’s a nickname one of my teammates gave me a couple of years ago. I love all kinds of music and all different kinds of dancing and I was just boogying around and he was like, ‘Yo, Boogie,’ and it just stuck and everybody started calling me that.
Do you look up to someone like David Beckham?
I admire him for what he’s done. First off,he’s a great soccer player and then he’s also made himself into a brand and I think that’s really cool.
Is that your ultimate goal?
In a sense, but I want to be a truly successful soccer player first and then, if endorsements come along, I will welcome them with open arms.
What is your personal style?
Very classic – all-American. I’m most comfortable in just normal, plain, slim-fitting things. My go-to outfit is Diesel jeans, Altra runners and a long-sleeved Calvin Klein t shirt.
Do you have to dress up for games?
Yes, when we come to the locker room we have to be dressed in a suit and tie, or a buttoned shirt and tie. We all wear the same outfits for game days but, when I do get to pick my own suits, I like Hugo Boss.
Has your style been influenced by modelling?
Yes, it has definitely influenced me. I know what I like and for the most part I know what looks good on my body. Some of the things I’ve modelled are really not for me, but I have no problem modelling them.
Do you ever get to keep clothes?
The underwear; that’s something you always get to keep (laughs). Every now and then you’ll get to keep a cool shirt or a jacket or something.
You learned to ride the unicycle at age 12.Were you teased at school for that?
I did get lots of teasing for it. When I was in Grade 9, my coach actually made me come out at one of the pep assemblies where they announce the soccer team and football team and you run out into the middle. He made me ride my unicycle and juggle in the middle of the entire pep assembly.
Do your teammates tease you now about modelling? Any Zoolander jokes?
All the time. But they don’t make Zoolander jokes. But, if anyone has to do any media stuff or if there are cameras around, my teammates make comments about my modelling.
If you could write the future of Lance, what would it be?
I definitely want to take my soccer career as long and as high as I can. Hopefully stay injury-free and keep the modelling going in the off-season, with bigger campaigns as time goes along. Then, obviously, find a girl, settle down and make a family.
You want to have little soccer players?
They can be whatever they want to be. I don’t want to be one of those dads.
No long-term prospects with the ladies?
Not yet. I’m still looking for that special one.
Soccer player Peter Schmeichel
(former Danish national team and Manchester United goalkeeper)
Designer Calvin Klein
Dance The two-step
Activities Backpacking, hiking, mountain biking and mountain climbing
Thing about Edmonton The people and the FC Edmonton soccer team … of course
Festivals The Fringe and Street Performers festivals
Favourite thing about Canada
The Rocky Mountains
Place in Canada Moraine Lake in Banff National Park