By GARRETT FODOR, The Essex Local
‘Unsung hero’ of Leamington Flyers in 2019-2020
Looking back to September, this season was anything but as planned or normal for one hockey player.
For Leamington Flyers forward Josh King, the season was his last in junior hockey. The Essex native had notched 24 points in three straight seasons. And after the team won the regular season and lost in the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League Western Conference finals last year, King and his teammates had high expectations.
At the start of the season, King was diagnosed with diabetes meaning a lifestyle change and constant monitoring. But it did not slow him down.
The 20 year-old forward battled through his diagnosis, reaching a career high 29 points while dressing in 46 games. King’s efforts, while billeting three other players, earned him the team’s unsung hero award. And it was his season and resilience that got him noticed by college scouts in the U.S.
As King recently committed to Northland College in Wisconsin – he notes it is special and unique to do during a global pandemic – never setting foot on campus. But he is grateful to be able to continue playing hockey.
“Through the commit process I kept in touch with the staff from Northland, from the admissions office to the coaching staff,” said King, as he looks ahead to September and the 2020-2021 season. “Head coach Seamus Gregory and assistant coach Mike Lennon described the organization and school and I believe I’ll thrive from the close group that Northland has built over the years. Words can’t explain how excited I am for this exciting chapter in my life.”
King and his Flyer teammates were in the midst of playoffs and one of their most successful seasons when COVID-19 shut down. The Flyers played their last game on March 12. They defeated the St. Marys Lincolns 4-1 before the season was cancelled March 13. King is still grateful for how his teammates and organization allowed him to take his next steps.
“During the pandemic I’ve been doing consistent workouts with my teammate Griffin Robinson,” said King. “Through the off season we’ve been trying to block out the pandemic to a certain extent. Growing everyday and continuing to get better has been key for me with the jump I will be making next year.”
While the border remains closed, King says he has been in constant contact with his coaches at Northland College and remains optimistic. King believes there will be a season and he will be able to play for the Lumberjacks when the season starts. He has had virtual calls with staff and teammates and anxious to begin his next step and will not let the pandemic hamper his mood.
“Overall my coaches and school have been extremely reassuring about this upcoming season,” said King. “ They’ve been staying on top of things to ensure we are ready to go when the season comes.”