From the Jr. StreetKings to College Hockey

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Josh Martin began his hockey career as a member of the Jr. StreetKings youth roller hockey program and is now a member of former RiverKing Don Parson's Lebanon Valley College men's ice hockey team.

Former RiverKings Captain Don Parsons may not be playing hockey in the Mid-South anymore, but that doesn’t mean his legacy hasn’t inspired others.

Josh Martin, a native of Southaven, first met Parsons when he was 7-years-old as a member of the Jr. StreetKings youth roller hockey program. Parsons, Martin’s first hockey coach, inspired him to pursue his dream of playing hockey at the collegiate level. Today, 19-year-old Martin is a member of the men’s ice hockey team at Lebanon Valley College in Annville, Penn., where Parsons is now head coach.

“A lot of people ask me how I ended up where I’m at, being from Mississippi,” Martin said. “I had the opportunity to play ice hockey under Don Parsons, who was a great player, so I knew he’d be a great coach to play for as well. It’s a great experience. It’s cool that I found my way back to the person who introduced the sport to me, and now I’m playing at the collegiate level for him.”

Parsons could see that Martin had what it take to succeed at the collegiate level even at a young age.

“He was always polite, always worked harder than everyone else and always did what the coaches asked him,” Parsons said. “He was a quick learner and a quiet leader amongst his teammates and friends, and he always had a desire to be the best at whatever he did.”

Martin has now developed into one of the most reliable forwards on Parsons’ team. His gritty playing style has exceeded Parsons’ expectations, landing him roles on the power play, penalty kill and first string, stemming, Martin says, from the skills he learned as a young player in the Mississippi RiverKings youth hockey program.

Parsons, who helped start the Jr. StreetKings program in 2002, has now seen one of its first members mature into a collegiate ice hockey player. Today, Derek Landmesser, Head Coach of the Mississippi RiverKings and former teammate of Parsons, coordinates the program.

“The RiverKings do a great job of promoting youth hockey and getting kids to play,” Parsons said. “From when we started the program, they’ve done a great job carrying that on and keeping interest in the community. I took tremendous pride walking into the rink every day and seeing familiar faces. It’s a special place for us, and it will never be forgotten.”

The RiverKings play their next game on Sunday, Dec. 23 at the Landers Center. Puck drops at 3:05 p.m. For more information on all things RiverKings, “like” us on Facebook (facebook.com/mississippiriverkings)/“follow” us on Twitter (twitter.com/riverkings).

The Mississippi RiverKings are supported by their community partners, season ticket holders, fans, and by program-related investments of the Maddox Foundation, an independent private foundation based in Hernando, Miss. To find out more about the RiverKings, call 662.342.1755 or visit http://www.riverkings.com.

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David Schmoll
Mississippi RiverKings
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