Parker Chadwell certainly believed in the fantastic program run by brothers Brett and Garrett Strot out of the AdventHealth Center Ice facility in Wesley Chapel, Fla.
A local player who cut his teeth at Bloomingdale High School a little further south in the Tampa Bay area, Chadwell first joined the Tampa Bay Juniors in 2018 at the USPHL Elite level. After one season of development there, he was ready for the USPHL Premier and stood tall on the Juniors’ Premier blue line for three years. Now, he’s extended his hockey career for at least four more years with an NCAA commitment to Manhattanville College in New York.
“I loved everything about playing for Tampa Bay these past four years. Playing in my hometown, in a great facility and for a great program, I couldn’t ask for anything more,” said Chadwell, who stands second in the Juniors Premier franchise in games played by a defenseman with 124 (second all-time only to his regular D partner Jon Heller, who played in 150 games).
His longevity and steady play, all of which helped earn him Florida Division All-Star honors this year, also helped attract the attention of Manhattanville College.
“Towards the end of the season was when I came into contact with the school after reaching out via e-mail. The coaches said I was a big defenseman who could skate well and believed the way I played would be a good fit for the program,” said Chadwell. “As far as the academic side, I knew they had degrees and classes that I am interested in taking. On the hockey side, I took a look at a few videos that captured the program and the culture and it was definitely something I liked. When I got the offer to join the program, I knew it was an opportunity I couldn’t waste.”
Chadwell made a career out of taking advantage of opportunities, especially when the Juniors brought in former NHL and Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Filip Kuba to its coaching staff.
“While playing with the Premier team, I have gotten the opportunity to work with Coach Kuba, who has excelled at the highest level, and he pays very close attention to detail while going through film,” said Chadwell. “He works with the defensemen during practice and works on the little things that can really improve your game. I have broken some bad habits and have gained good ones through attention to detail while with Coach Kuba.”
Along with working with Coach Kuba, he also attributes his success over the years to getting that first season in the USPHL Elite under his belt to make the transition from youth and high school hockey to higher-level Tier-3 hockey in the Premier.
“My Elite season is always going to be special to me. It was a great way for me to adapt to junior hockey coming out of youth hockey. The development I got through the speed and mental training with TBJ - along with off-season training - made the transition from Elite to Premier easy,” said Chadwell. “Of course over the three seasons of Premier under the training, TBJ has made it easy each season and I feel come August, I will be prepared for NCAA Division III.”
Chadwell has every intention of making the roster each night with Manhattanville - no one wants to watch from the sidelines when healthy, of course. It’s a hard-traveled road to get there, but he’s fueled up and ready to roll.
“Every aspect of my game has to be taken to the next level in order to make an impact,” said Chadwell. “The speed of the game changes at every level and I need to be prepared to play at and exceed the speed of NCAA Division III hockey to make an impact.”
He also wants to show just how good a Florida-born-and-trained player can be in the wider world of college hockey. He’s got a state to rep.
“Hockey is still early in development in Florida, but you can see the growth,” he added. “With the Tampa Bay Lightning being as successful as they are now, they have drawn major attention to the sport in Florida. The Tampa Bay Lightning organization is also taking a more hands-on role in developing the sport, as they run the high school hockey league in the Tampa area.”
The USPHL congratulates Parker Chadwell, his family, the Tampa Bay Juniors and Manhattanville College for his commitment.
Photo by Xoe Bergman