Austinite gets back to hockey roots for Texas’ club hockey team

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Jarrid Denman

Junior Mark Judice is in his first year playing for Texas. He played junior hockey in Austin prior to joining the Horns.

Johnie Glasenapp

Mark Judice is a rarity in Austin. He didn’t grow up throwing a football or bouncing a basketball. Instead, he glided around on a rare surface in Texas — ice. 

Judice, a junior defenseman on the Texas Longhorn Ice Hockey team, is the only player from Austin on the Longhorns’ roster. Judice began playing hockey at age 5. His love for the game connects him to the close-knit community hockey has become, even in the middle of Texas. 

“The older players gave me lessons,” said Judice, regarding the local skating lessons he received growing up. 

Juidce still remembers the first stick and pair of skates he used, as if he had received them yesterday.

“The first stick I got was wooden and cheap, but the first graphite stick I played with was an Easton Z Bubble,” Judice said. “Since I was 12 years old, I’ve worn the same skates, a pair of Bauer
Vapor 19s.”

His parents played a role in encouraging Judice’s love for hockey, even in the hockey-starved state of Texas. They took him to practices and games, fighting Austin traffic on the way to the rink. In that time, they too became part of the hockey community. Junior hockey in Austin does not exist without the players’ parents — who serve as coaches, doctors and snack providers for the teams and players. 

“I didn’t know that the parents played a huge role,” Judice said. “They were our coaches, trainers and managers, and they took us to weekend tournaments, practices and games.”

Judice played junior hockey for the Austin Road Runners for 10 years, and then two years into his time at Texas, he decided to slip the skates back on and play the game he loves. It took a little pressure from a friend on the team, but Judice is happy with his decision. The club hockey team gives him the opportunity to become re-acclimated with the brotherhood hockey provides. 

His career in college hockey is off to a good start. Judice currently has six points in his first twelve games, and plays point on the team’s power play. His coaches are impressed with his performance, especially because it’s Judice’s first year of competitive hockey since juniors. 

“They said that I could really play hockey,” Judice said. “I’m very lucky to have made the club.”