Last year, Chris Parker moved well over 4,000 miles to live with his father on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.
Now, the recent Eagle River High graduate is packing his bags again.
Parker is making the 2,000-mile trek to Lakewood, Wash., where he’ll play basketball for Pierce College in the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges (NWAACC).
“I’m so excited,” said Parker, who hopes to gain experience at Pierce and transfer to a Division I program. “I’m ready to get down there. Ready right now.”
Parker and a dozen other Alaskans seeking to play ball at the next level traveled to Washington in April for a weeklong tryout, where they scrimmaged current team members.
When Parker arrived back on Fort Rich, he received word that head coach Bill Mendelson was interested in him.
“My dad and my family are really happy about it,” Parker said.
Parker, who moved from Suffolk, Va., at the start of the 2011-12 school year, said his father, Darnyell, was instrumental in helping him pursue collegiate athletics.
“He’s the one that motivated me a lot,” Parker said.
The two of them have been hitting the weight room together in preparation for next season, Parker said.
“I have to work out all summer. Get better. Get stronger,” he said. “Those guys are good down there. Very physical.”
Competing in the NWAACC should be no problem for Parker, said Eagle River head coach Fred Young.
“He’ll have a lot of success at that level,” said Young, whose son, Dominic, plays for Skagit Valley College in the same league.
Parker, too, is confident in his abilities.
“It’s gonna be tough. I’m ready, though,” he said.
Parker won’t be the only player at Pierce with ties to Alaska. Three other Alaskans played last season, including 2008 Chugiak High graduate Chris Hyslop.
Parker’s best attribute is his work ethic, Young said.
“He just works extremely hard,” he said. “He’s very coachable.”
That attitude is what will enable Parker to reach any goal he sets, Young said.
Parker, who was named to the All Cook Inlet Conference team, also brought leadership to Eagle River in his first and only year on the team, Young said.
“He stepped up to the front right away,” Young said. “Once he bought into what was going on, he was unstoppable. He was a good piece to the puzzle.”
Parker is also considering trying out for Pierce’s baseball team. Parker, who plays shortstop and pitches for Eagle River American Legion, was recently named to the All-CIC first team following the high school season.
Parker started playing both sports at age 7. He said the intensity of basketball is what attracted him to the game.
When dribbling up court, Parker said he’s comfortable and in control.
“I feel like it’s my court,” he said. “I feel free.”
Contact Mike Nesper at 694-2727 or firstname.lastname@example.org