By Scott Parse
My story begins at age three in Portage, Michigan...
I was on my first hockey team by age 5. Looking back, I think skill-wise I was better than most kids and it came easy to me. I had a lot of fun with it and I looked forward to going to hockey every day.
Playing hockey in Michigan at a young age I saw a lot of good competition. I am from a city called Portage, which is in Kalamazoo County. The size is around 50,000 people in terms of population. Growing up there I was lucky when I was young because one of my neighbors played in the NHL and he was basically my first coach for about five years. He really got me going in hockey and taught me a lot about it. My coach’s name was Bernie Saunders and he had played for the Quebec Nordiques and also for the nearby Kalamazoo Wings of the International Hockey League.
I play forward now but I changed positions around a lot as a kid. The goalies used to rotate each game so I always looked forward to that, but for the most part I was usually a forward. I was also in the fifth grade when I started to travel a lot for hockey. We traveled to Detroit, Chicago and Cleveland, and Pittsburgh was in our league as well as Sault St. Marie and Marquette.
Being from Michigan most people would think that I was a Red Wings fan growing up and that was the case. But for me college hockey was also huge. Western Michigan University was right there and my parents and I would go to games all the time. That was kind of my goal as a kid -- I wanted to play college hockey. Back then that school was real good and they have always had a solid hockey program.
|Scott Parse idolized Steve Yzerman of the Red Wings when he was growing up in Michigan. |
I was also fortunate growing up there when I did because the Red Wings have been good pretty much my whole life beginning in the early 1990s, which is as far back as I can remember. In my lifetime they have always been good and Steve Yzerman was my favorite player. They were a good team to root for growing up as they were winning all the time.
Playing in the NHL was always a dream and I’d have to say my junior year of high school was when I started to realize that I might be able to keep taking my game to that next level. I moved away from home to play hockey and I pretty much made up my mind that I wanted to do this and see how far I could take this. That year I had a good year so the next step was juniors and then college.
It was, however, a very hard decision to leave home when I did. I was 15 years old and about to turn 16 and the travel team I was on folded that year. So I was faced with either playing hockey at my high school or moving away and finding another travel team. I decided to move away and everything worked out pretty well in retrospect.
When I left home I went to Sault St. Marie, Michigan, which is about five hours from home. I moved up there and lived with a family and I went to school up there, but most of the kids on the team were like that. We had kids from all over the place and everyone stayed with a billet family and went to high school up there.
As I was getting closer to college, I decided to go to the University of Nebraska at Omaha and play on their hockey team. I had finished my first year of junior hockey and I received some interest from some schools and they were the ones who most heavily recruited me. I figured they wanted me and I would go there and get a chance to play and I was happy I went there.”
After my first year at Nebraska at Omaha I was drafted by the Kings in 2004. That was a pretty cool day for sure. It was also a little different I guess because I knew I was going to be in college, but my parents were excited for me to see my name being drafted. It was definitely cool to be drafted by an NHL team and a lot of kids don’t get that chance.
|Scott Parse made his debut with the Kings wearing #63 in 2009. |
The journey from draft day in 2004 to making my NHL debut in 2009 was well worth the wait. It was indeed a dream come true playing in the NHL last year for the first time with the Kings. From the time I was drafted I knew I was going to be in college for the next few years and after I turned pro then I really started thinking I want to be on the big team in the NHL with the Kings and that was my goal. The journey, in truth, has been a bit different than I expected but I’m here now and I’m going to do my best to be a part of this team for a long time.
Last summer I went to Mike Donnelly’s place in the Detroit area. Mike used to play for the Kings and now works as a scout and with the club’s development team. We worked on a lot of things that you would think players would work on but most don’t. I could see a big difference coming into training camp last year. I just felt a lot felt more confident out there on the ice, especially on the offensive side. I’ve always been able to make plays in the offensive zone. I’ve really trying to work on playing away from the puck and in the defensive zone. I continue to try to be an all-around player.
At the beginning of last year I was in Manchester. Joining the Kings mid-season was a lot of fun. I had prepared myself my entire life to get to this level and I felt I had a good season on the whole. I also had a lot of fun. When I got the call to come join the Kings, I remember at the time that I just felt like a little kid again. You’re excited and nervous and you don’t know what to think.
This is what you want your whole life and to be called up to play in the NHL, and then to play, is a dream come true for sure.