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Parma hockey wins back-to-back division titles, assisted by stellar play from senior co-captain

PSH student Matt Higginbotham March 2, 2020

 

For senior Matt Higginbotham and the Parma Senior High School ice hockey team‭, ‬the past two seasons on and off the ice will be memorable for years to come‭.‬

After finishing last year with the most wins in school history‭ (‬29-6‭, ‬13-1‭) ‬and earning a championship in the Greater Cleveland‭ ‬High School Hockey League Blue North Division‭, ‬the Parma Redmen were looking to repeat their successes in the 2019-2020‭ ‬campaign‭. 

This season‭, ‬creating more of a challenge for the team was moving up to the more competitive GCHSHL White Division‭, ‬bringing a new set of opponents and rivalries‭.  ‬And this‭, ‬all for a team led by a small‭, ‬but extremely talented‭, ‬group of seniors‭.‬

In the end‭, ‬however‭, ‬the Redmen were just as successful as the previous season‭ - ‬capturing a White South Division title‭, ‬on their way to a 25-6-1‭ ‬record‭, ‬including a perfect 10-0‭ ‬in league play‭.  ‬In addition‭, ‬for the first time in school history‭, ‬Parma put‭ ‬together back-to-back division championship teams‭.‬

“When we moved up‭, ‬they expected us to be contenders‭, ‬not to be where we are now‭,‬”‭ ‬Higginbotham explained of their White South Division title‭. ‬“Especially because we had to beat Solon twice‭ (‬5-3‭, ‬3-1‭), ‬which were probably our two toughest league games‮…‬it really showed the‭ ‬work ethic of the team‭.‬”

A strong work ethic on and off the ice is what Higginbotham is all about‭. ‬Serving for the last three years as a co-captain of the team‭, ‬the 6’2”‭ ‬center leads the team by example‭. ‬

He finished the 2019-2020‭ ‬campaign with 19‭ ‬goals and 15‭ ‬assists in league play‭, ‬leading the White Division in points‭, ‬goals and‭ ‬assists‭. 

Along with teammates Robbie Gudin and Colin Pinson‭, ‬Higginbotham was named to the All-White Division First Team this season‭. ‬He‭ ‬and Gudin will represent Parma at the GCHSHL All-Star Game at Rocket Mortgage Field House on March 6‭.‬

Then‭, ‬on March 15‭, ‬Higginbotham will represent Parma at the Ohio Hockey Coaches Association All-Star Game at Nationwide Arena in‭ ‬Columbus‭. ‬The game is comprised of players from 78‭ ‬high school programs throughout Ohio‭. ‬It’s been four years since Parma was represented at that game‭.‬

A 4.0‭ ‬student in school‭, ‬Higginbotham will graduate with 12‭ ‬varsity letters‭, ‬earning four letters in each cross-country‭, ‬hockey‭ ‬and track‭.‬

“I like to score‭,‬”‭ ‬Higginbotham said of ice hockey‭. ‬“Just the thrill of being able to put the puck in the back of the net is pretty cool‭.‬”

Parma Senior High School and the hockey program are very much traditions in the Higginbotham household‭. ‬Both parents graduated from Parma Senior High School‭, ‬with Higginbotham’s Dad previously competing on the ice for the Parma‭. ‬Matt’s younger brother also competes for the Redmen‭. ‬

“I’ve been playing hockey since I was young‭,‬”‭ ‬Higginbotham expressed‭. ‬“Going on tournaments with friends and their parents‭, ‬and I’ve had friends since I was five or six‭. ‬So‭, ‬it’s pretty cool having that tight-knit bond‭. ‬Here at Parma‭, ‬we are as close as it gets‭. ‬We all look out for one another‭, ‬it’s a big team aspect‭. ‬We’re very family focused‭.‬”

The team finished the remainder season with two losses‭ - ‬one in the Baron Cup tournament and another in a District game at Brooklyn‭, ‬losing each game by one goal‭.‬

Higginbotham thinks the future is bright for the Redmen in the years to come‭.‬

“We did get a lot of freshmen this year‭, ‬which is nice‭,‬”‭ ‬Higginbotham said‭. ‬“And our goalie will still come back next year‭, ‬so we’ll still have good defense next year‭. ‬We have people coming up‭, ‬which is good to see‭. ‬We’re not just leaving the program and it’s just going to go down‭. ‬They are still going to be competitors‭.‬”

Following in the footsteps of many in his family‭, ‬Higginbotham plans to enroll at Cuyahoga Community College in the fall for the‭ ‬Fire and EMS Training Program to eventually become a firefighter‭. ‬He’s nearly earned his Associates Degree at Tri-C‭, ‬taking advantage of the district’s College Credit Plus options‭. ‬

Without a doubt‭, ‬his strong work ethic and desire to succeed will follow Higginbotham into the next chapter of his life‭.‬

“Don’t give up‭. ‬If it’s not going so well‭, ‬keep working towards something and it will come‭,‬”‭ ‬Higginbotham said‭. ‬“You can’t settle‭.‬”

 

PHOTO CAPTION: Matt Higginbotham‭, ‬a 4.0‭ ‬student at Parma Senior High School‭, ‬lead the GCHSHL All-White Division in points‭, ‬goals and assists and was named to two All-Star teams‭. ‬When he graduates in June‭, ‬he will have earned 12‭ ‬varsity letters in three sports for the Redmen‭. ‬