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Chicopee senior caps off career after a once major setback

Chicopee senior caps off career after a once major setback
Chicopee senior Kobe Parker reached the 1,000-point plateau in a February basketball game against Sci-Tech. (Courtesy: Chicopee High School - Pacers/Facebook)

CHICOPEE, Mass. (BVM) — Kobe Parker’s senior year can be encapsulated by one significant moment. In a February matchup against the Sci-Tech Cybercats, Parker followed up a missed layup by grabbing the ball in mid-air and scoring on his own layup attempt, pushing him to 1,000 career points. The following moments saw the Pacers’ bench rush to jump on Parker after his achievement.

“At the moment I didn’t even realize it until after the fact, my adrenaline was going so much,” Parker said. “I was more worried about getting the win right there and then. I was happy, but it didn’t hit me at the moment that I really just did this. That night at home, I was just jumping around my room. All the stuff that I’d been through this whole season with my appendix and my hip, it was crazy. Me and my team, my dad and my family, really put in the work and it finally paid off.”

A lot of hard work and dedication went into Parker’s 1,000-point accomplishment. Two years prior, however, this moment would seem like a distant hope. Late in Chicopee’s season, the Pacers were just starting their playoff run. In Parker’s first-ever playoff game, the sophomore guard would have his season come to a halt after a torn ACL.

“In our first playoff game, he tore his ACL, which was devastating,” Pacers coach Steve Menard said. “The next day after tearing it, he’s at practice with a knee immobilizer on, sitting down in a chair making 700 shots right underneath the rim, just form-shooting. He was at every single practice doing that. He was like a coach at practice and he would actually go scout games with me of different opponents in the playoffs.

“A lot of kids who get hurt like Parker did might show up at practice and they’re disengaged, but not him. He would come into the gym before school at six in the morning, and he would lift and do some rehab in there. The amount of work that he put in was impressive and then just trying to keep him off the court. The first few weeks were tough for him because he wasn’t able to do the things he used to do.”

The injury was a tough pill to swallow for Parker as he had to work his way back in rehab to return next season.

“The whole process of that was really hard,” Parker said. “It was really hard on me because I had people talking to me, I heard negative stuff all the time, negative thinking, like you’re not going to be the same person that you were playing basketball or you’re gonna be scared. But with my dad, my coach, and my team, I just took it day-by-day.”

Parker has been a starter at Chicopee since his freshman year. After an injury to a teammate in the first game, Parker would be firmly planted into the starting lineup for the remainder of his high school career. As a sophomore, Parker led the Pacers in points, rebounds, and assists. After being cleared to play again, Parker’s junior season saw similar success.

In his senior season, the star guard helped lead the Pacers to the No. 1 seed in the Division II playoffs. After a spectacular season, Parker would have emergency surgery, closing out his regular season.

“At the end of the season, he plays Commerce and has something like 27 points, 16 rebounds in a hostile environment, and has a great game,” Menard said. “The next day, he has an emergency appendectomy and misses the last three games of his senior year but gets cleared by our first playoff game. He comes back and misses a triple-double by two assists. Him overcoming adversity and continuing to work and get better every day, has been fun to watch.”

The Pacers 2019-20 season would come to a close as the team came up short in their state title quest, losing to the Taconic Braves in the Division II boys basketball championship.

Parker’s lasting images of his senior season involve the camaraderie of playing with his teammates. His future in basketball will continue as Parker plans to play at Westfield State University in the fall.

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