Kevin Parsons has always been a study in contradiction.
Outwardly, he sported a roguish smile and a happy-go-lucky demeanor. When asked what he cherished most in life, he would quickly reply “women and parties”. For him, life was to be enjoyed to the fullest.
But the faÃ§ade of his bonvivant disposition masked another, more complex individual. He played hard, uncompromising lacrosse, albeit with that trademark grin across his face. He was known to display a flare of the temper when he felt that he or a teammate had been wronged. Anyone sporting the Salmonbellies’ blue and red was, in his opinion, persona non grata. Despite his superstar status, Kevin always felt he had to prove himself, particularly if he was coming off an injury. Oh yes, he also had a long memory.
With his exceptional athletic prowess, Kevin’s early years in lacrosse were clear sailing. He first obtained a measure of prominence in 1959 when he won the Most Valuable Player award in Burnaby PeeWee lacrosse. He moved into the New Westminster lacrosse structure but found himself, despite his ability, riding the bench. Eventually, he was cut.
Years later, he broke into the junior box lacrosse ranks with Coquitlam and wasted little time building himself a reputation as a prolific scorer. He captured the 1965 Junior Rookie of the Year award after blasting 51 goals and setting up another 17. Salmonbellies had won the right to vie for the Minto Cup and asked Kevin to join in the quest. But he recalled that earlier encounter with New Westminster and, despite his desire to play in a Canadian championship, he refused to put on a Salmonbellies uniform.
Altogether, Kevin played four seasons on junior lacrosse in Coquitlam, scoring 157 goals and 108 assists in just 75 games. During this period, he also took part in the occasional senior contest with the Adanacs, registering another 34 goals and nine assists.
Parsons graduated to the senior Adanacs in 1969 and proved to be a star pupil, scoring 51 goals and 47 assists and capturing the Rookie award and a First All-Star Team Rating.
But some hard times lay on the horizon. A late start in 1970 saw his production drop from 98 to 64. He returned in 1971, determined to raise the point total above 100. It wasn’t to be, dashed by an errant enemy stick. A slash broke his hand. Sporting a cast, Kevin played through pain but the accuracy and speed of his shot suffered even more.
In 1972, determined to prove the injury had not permanently hampered his scoring talent, Kevin racked up 38 goals and 79 assists for 117 points, followed up the next year with 109 points and the WLA scoring title.
And then it was off to the professional National Lacrosse League for two seasons, the first in Rochester and the second in Boston. High production continued – 286 points over the two years before the league closed up shop and Kevin returned to the Adanacs.
The Edmonton-born Parsons planned on retiring after the 1978 season in which he participated in just five games. However, in 1979, Kevin suffered a severe leg injury in an automobile accident, one which doctors said would definitely finish him as an athlete.
Those doctors, though, hadn’t taken into account Kevin’s streak of stubbornness. Late at night when no one would see him struggling with pain and balance, Kevin ran for months to strengthen the injured leg. Without fanfare, he returned for the 1980 season. Having proven the doctors wrong by averaging two points a game, Kevin retired for good at the still young age of 32.
In addition to the rookie award and the scoring title mentioned above, Kevin was named the WLA’s Most Valuable Player in 1973, was named to the All-Star Team five times, and ended his 12-year career with 447 goals and 618 assists for 1,065 points in 382 games.
Parsons was inducted into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1993.