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