Neutral Zone was able to catch up with recent Providence College commit Parker Ford for a quick Q&A about the early stages of his hockey career, his decision to commit to the home-state school he’s followed for so long, and his future goals and plans. The former Selects Academy U16 forward, currently ranked as a 3.5-star prospect by Neutral Zone, plays a fast, energetic and relentless game that mixes speed with skill and flat-out hustle. Every time we’ve seen Ford he’s been among the hardest workers on the ice and has proven over and over that he’s willing to pay the price to win pucks and create turnovers. He’s also shown an ability to get by defenders 1 vs. 1, using his quick hands, feet and change of speed. Some might consider him to be undersized, but his energy and athleticism certainly make up for that.
How did you get your start in hockey? At what age did you begin playing and what were some of the first teams you played for?
My start on the ice began at Boss Ice Arena at the University of Rhode Island, I was about 3 years old. Following their phenomenal learn to skate program, I started playing in the local house league at age 5. The first teams I played for growing up began with the SRI Rams, then I moved onto the Edgewood Hawks for one year, and then played for the Providence Capitals organization for multiple years before moving onto Selects Academy.
Did you have any notable early influences in terms of your hockey career? Any people, coaches, idols etc. that either directly helped you get started or inspired you?
First of all, I would like to say that every coach I have every had has influenced me in terms of my hockey, and I have taken something from each and every one of them. A notable coach I had was Coach Strubble, with the Edgewood Hawks. He was a coach that gave me great confidence in my game at such a young age, and inspired me to work harder than anyone else. He was the first coach I ever had that kept track of stats, which made me want to be the top goal scorer, and the best I could be. I had some great memories with Coach Strubble, and will always remember how he inspired me to be the best hockey player I can be.
How did your career transition from youth hockey to midget / U16 hockey with Selects Academy?
My career transitioned from my youth hockey organization, the Providence Capitals, to Selects after being recruited to the East Coast Selects Q tournament team. I played with this team for three summers, and was eventually seen by a member of the Selects Academy coaching staff. It was history from there.
Why did you end up going to Selects Academy, what has that experience been like and how do you think it is preparing you for the next levels of your hockey career?
I ended up going to Selects Academy because it was a great opportunity for me to play at the next level. My three years of experience in the program has developed me into a better person and hockey player. The program has given me the opportunity to train and develop both on and off of the ice at the highest level, and it has also given me the knowledge to succeed in the classroom and has given me the confidence and depth as an individual to persevere in all situations.
You recently committed to Providence College. What factored into your decision?
Being a true Rhode Islander, I grew up going to PC games with my family and friends. As a mite, I practiced and played at Schneider. It has always been a dream of mine to become a Friar. My dream has now become a reality and I could not be more excited for this next chapter in my life.
Did you consider any other schools? What was your college search / recruiting process like and what advice might you have for other players similar to yourself going through that process?
Yes, other schools were considered. This process is not easy and can be a little stressful at times. My college recruiting process began what seemed like overnight. Take this process slow, don’t focus on what others are doing, focus on what you can control, it is a process. It can be tough when you have many opinions coming at you… my advice is to stay true to yourself and what your heart is telling you. My heart was in Providence and that’s where I’ll be.
What are your plans for the 2017-2018 season?
I will be playing in the USHL with the Sioux City Musketeers for the 2017-18 season.
How are you preparing for the upcoming season in terms of your training? Are you doing anything new or different to work on your game?
This summer I am training with Ocean State Hockey, run by Toby O’Brien at Providence College. We train on ice 4 times weekly and off ice 5 days weekly. With the expertise of Mike Macchioni (strength and conditioning coach of the Boston Bruins), I am utilizing the latest techniques and training aids to improve in the area of strength and conditioning.
What type of player do you consider yourself to be and what are some of your strengths? What are some weaknesses you hope to improve on?
I like to see myself as a two-way forward, that plays hard, fast, and relentless. Some of my strengths are my ability to hunt pucks and create offense, and my capability to play center or wing.
There is always room for improvement, and I will continue to focus on getting better in the little aspects of the game. Doing the little things right, such as winning 50/50 battles, being in position, and playing hard off the puck, will lead to success.
Who is the best player you’ve played with in your career so far? Best player you’ve played against?
This is a really difficult question as I’ve played with so many great players along the way. My teammates from Selects Academy have been by far the most talented players that I have had the opportunity to play with. Along those same lines, the most difficult or challenging game that my teammates and I faced was the game against Compuware in the national tournament.
What are some of your short and long-term goals in life, in terms of hockey or other personal goals?
My focus now is to develop and prepare for a successful season in Sioux City. My growth and development in the USHL will lead me to a successful career at Providence and beyond.
What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned from playing hockey so far that you’ll be able to use wherever you go in life?
The greatest lesson I have learned from the game of hockey is perseverance. You have to trust the process, and put your time in on and off the ice in order to be rewarded. Anywhere you go in life, success is inevitable if you are willing to persevere and be a hard worker.
Photo Credit: Dan Hickling / Hickling Images