An award of The USA Hockey Foundation, the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award is presented annually to the top player in NCAA Division I women’s ice hockey.
When former Harvard University standout Mary Parker joined Boston University as a graduate student, she was focused on her graduate studies in addition to getting back on the ice after an injury prematurely ended her senior season.
Parker also reclaimed her spot as one of the top players in NCAA Division I women’s ice hockey.
Now, Parker is helping to lead the BU Terriers while staying in the mix for the Patty Kazmaier Award, presented annually to the top player in women’s college hockey.
“I think it’s truly an honor and I’m humbled to be mentioned as a candidate for the Patty Kazmaier Award,” Parker said. “Patty Kazmaier had such a strong work ethic, she was always striving to get better and she was a real force on the ice, but she was also kind-hearted and set a good example that we can all strive to follow every day. She has such an incredible legacy, so it’s very special to be considered among the elite student athletes.”
Parker played just five games for Harvard last season before suffering a hip injury that required surgery. Parker, a native of Milton, Massachusetts, is grateful for her graduate opportunity at Boston University.
“This year, coming in, I tried to take advantage of every opportunity I had, day-in, day-out, to work hard at practice, try to get better and back to where I was at before my injury,” Parker said. “The combination of all of that is playing with great players, so I’m very fortunate to be playing with great linemates. We work really well together and play off each other, which creates opportunities and definitely leads to success.”
The transition from Harvard to Boston has been seamless for Parker, who said she felt welcomed from the start, which also contributed to her success.
“The proximity of schools and growing up my whole life in Boston, I definitely wanted to stay around the area,” Parker said. “That was a big push, and definitely made it easy, especially because there are so many great institutions and teams in the area. Last year was very disappointing with the season-ending injury preventing me from finishing my college career. So, I kind of wanted that opportunity to pursue a master’s [degree] and finish my career, which is something I’m definitely very grateful for.”
Parker graduated from Harvard with a concentration in government and economics. At BU, she is pursuing a master’s degree in financial economics and plans to graduate from the 12-month program in the summer.
“I felt it was a great opportunity to pursue a master’s degree, so just the combination of the academic side, while also playing for a top program was something I felt was attractive,” Parker said. “I would say that the academic coursework is similar to what I had for my undergraduate degree, so it’s definitely a benefit that I was somewhat used to that. Probably one of the biggest differences between graduate work is the length of all the classes because they’re all three hours long. It was an adjustment at the beginning.”
But Parker has experience after spending three years at Harvard, and she has applied that at Boston University.
“I definitely try to take what I learned over the years and some of the things that worked for me,” Parker said. “I stuck with it and try to set a good example for some younger players, so I can try to work hard, do the little things on the ice and be a leader.”
Parker has done just that with the Terriers, ranking among the national scoring leaders with 18 goals and 32 points in 26 games. She tallied a point in every November game, registering an NCAA-best 10 goals in nine games during the span, and was named Hockey East Player of the Month.
All this comes after Parker’s time at Harvard, where she was a standout for three seasons. Parker led the team in scoring during the 2014-15 season with 17 goals and 39 points, helping the Crimson to the national title game. Parker, who posted 43 goals and 91 points in 104 career games, also played two seasons with older sister Elizabeth at Harvard.
“Harvard was a great time for me and I was very fortunate for my time there and being able to play two years of hockey with my sister,” said Parker, who recorded her 100th career point at Boston University. “We had great teams, we worked hard and had great success. I definitely learned a lot going there and having that experience helped me contribute to success at BU and make that transition.”
Parker was also part of an emotional game at Harvard where she scored two goals en route to a 4-3 victory.
“There was definitely a lot of excitement for that game and I was really excited to go back there and see all my former teammates and play against them,” said Parker, who admitted nerves at the beginning of the game. “It was a little different being on the other side because I wore the Harvard jersey last year with all my teammates. But once I settled in, I tried to take the approach that it was just another game.”
Parker has more than settled in for her final year of college hockey eligibility at Boston University. Her current focus is to finish out the year and then her master’s degree.
“After that, I’d love to continue playing hockey because it has been such a big part of my life,” said Parker, who is also interested in a career in commercial real estate. “I’d love to continue playing, but I’m also thinking about studying a career in the workforce as well.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
Photo Credit: Rich Gagnon