Hockey has always been a part of Zoe Konanz’s life.
Her father and brother played, and now she is a graduate of the Penticton Minor Hockey Association.
For her hard work and dedication on and off the ice, Konanz is the recipient of the PMHA Harold Gardner Bursary for $1,000.
“It means a lot because I have been involved in hockey the past 10 years,” said Konanz, now attending UBC. “Now that I’m finishing off hockey, to be presented with such a prestigious award, because of my efforts in hockey and also in school, it’s just really special.”
During her time in the PMHA, Konanz said playing as hosts for midget female provincials two years ago and captaining her team are highlights.
“That was a huge honour to have that,” said Konanz of Penticton hosting the provincial championships. “I never thought that I would be a part of provincials because that was the first year that we had the rep team for my age group. Last season I was the captain of my team, which was a great way to finish off minor hockey.”
Konanz is thankful for those who created the bursary, especially seeing the names of past winners.
“It’s pretty amazing to be a part of that,” she said.
PMHA shined the spotlight on Konanz in a Q & A below.
PMHA- When did you first start playing hockey?
Zoe – I started playing hockey when I was eight years old.
PMHA- What is your first memory of being on the ice as a young player?
Zoe – My first memory of being on the ice was definitely the odd smelling rink and feeling of gear! Since I was the youngest child, I was “honoured’ to get my older brothers hand-me down hockey gear, and I just remember how awkward and itchy it all felt at first. I can now honestly say that you start to love the feeling of your gear and the smell of the rink because it is all a part of playing the game.
PMHA- Do you have a favourite season? If so why is it so special?
Zoe- My favourite season was my second to last season, as we got the amazing opportunity to go to a tournament in Missoula, Mont. and also to host provincials here in Penticton. The bus ride to Montana was long, but the time spent in the bus really brought the team together. Hosting and playing in provincials was an experience I never thought I’d get, and just competing against such strong female teams was amazing.
PMHA- Where has your minor hockey career taken you?
Zoe- Being in minor hockey has given me so many interesting and unique opportunities that I wouldn’t have experienced being in other sports. I have been able to travel around B.C. and out of province, and even across the border, which helped improve my game as I encountered stronger teams from around Canada and the U.S. This past year, I was asked to represent Penticton Minor Hockey on national television with a former teammate of mine from boys hockey. We both got a private interview with Ron MacLean talking about all our wonderful experiences that hockey has brought us. Hockey will also be helping me with my next exciting opportunity as I go off to University of British Columbia. I was given four academic hockey scholarships that will help with my tuition.
PMHA – How has hockey positiviley influenced your life growing up in Penticton? How did it keep you focused in school and a contributing member of society?
Zoe- Hockey has been a very positive and motivating factor in my life that has also helped me succeed off the ice. Even though hockey is very time consuming (especially as I moved into my final years of high school), it has helped build valuable skills such as time management, commitment and perseverance. With these skills, I managed to be on the gold honour roll (90 per cent average) for all four years at Penticton Secondary.
PMHA – Why should young girls think about a hockey path? How has it developed self confidence and good character?
Zoe- I think that it’s a shame that young girls see so many boys playing hockey and just immediately consider it not for them. When I first started hockey I was a very shy child, but having that amazing support system that comes with being on a team has helped grow my self-confidence and become more outgoing, which many girls struggle with. In today’s society, so many girls struggle with being self-conscience about their appearances, and being involved in hockey and sports in general is so important for them because it’s an activity that doesn’t focus on looks, just having fun.
PMHA – What will you miss about minor hockey the most?
Zoe – I think the thing I’ll miss most about hockey is being a part of a team. It was always nice coming to the rink and having 20 other like-minded people that are there to support you. The love of hockey really brings people together, and in my 10 years of playing, I’ve gotten the chance to be friends with people that I wouldn’t have known otherwise.
PMHA – What’s next?
Zoe – Now that my years in Penticton Minor Hockey are over and I am graduated, I am going to studying sciences at University of British Columbia. I will definitely bring my gear down to the coast and hopefully play on an intramural team. It’s sad that this chapter of my life is over, but minor hockey has definitely made me the person I am today and am extremely thankful for all that hockey has done for me.
PMHA also caught up with Zoe’s parents, Helena and Adam.
PMHA — Your fondest memory of Zoe’s hockey career?
Mom and Dad — Her first goal in her first year of atom development. We had a tough season as a team. Towards the end of the season we played a home game and she had a breakaway near the end and the entire team jumped all over her and the mom and dad’s cheered. She still has the puck.
PMHA — Your favourite volunteer job as a parent?
Mom — My favorite volunteer job as a parent was the concession. You really got to know the other parents from your own team working with them and from the other team as they were buying coffee, etc. We must have volunteered at least 80 shifts in the 16 years with minor hockey. The most shifts would be during home tournaments.
Dad — I loved running that clock as you were really close to the play and got to tease our kids for taking penalties. I goalie coached a few new goalies and it was great to see them improve and the life skills they got from playing goal.
PMHA — How much driving/costs/different hotels have you stayed in BC alone?
Mom and Dad — I don’t want to even add up how much it cost! At a minimum, 10 to 12 hotel nights a season. The year Zoe played in atom development she played five tournaments, and Zakary played five tournaments one year also. We drove to a different city almost every weekend during hockey season, so we really put on the miles. And we needed to take many days off of work, but it was so worth it for all of us. The other parents became our social network and by the end of the season everyone is like family. There were only a couple of seasons that Zoe and Zakary were both playing at the same time — I really felt most for those families that had two or even three kids playing hockey in the same season!
Zoe Konanz, middle, with her parents Adam and Helena.
PMHA — Why hockey? Did you offer/try for other sports??
Mom and Dad – Sports is very important to our family. We all have done and are doing many sports, from hockey to tennis to rugby to Ironman. It has become a way of life for all of us.
PMHA — Difference between coed and female hockey? Shy support female hockey?
Mom and Dad — When Zoe started playing hockey at age eight, joining a female hockey team in Penticton was not an option. She played on the boys teams until she was 13, when she played her first year on a female midget team. On every boy’s team Zoe played with, the boys were always really welcoming. And the coaches were fantastic They always made sure that Zoe felt comfortable and was included in everything. The toughest thing about it was probably having to dress in the makeshift female dressing rooms in many of the areas. Zoe learned so much playing with the boys teams, especially how to use her physical strength to her advantage. When she joined the girls team she made some great friends and again had fantastic coaches.
PMHA — How has hockey positively influenced your daughter and your family?
Mom and Dad — Hockey has been a great family building time. The time you have to spend with your kids, travel time, hotel time, equipment and time. It all adds up to great conversations and learning opportunities. A season really takes over as it progresses and ultimately lots of laughs and a few tears. It is a great game that will really influence and build great character in your kids. There will be some negative times but those are mostly parents or the odd kid that will lose perspective about the game. As parents, we owe it to the game of hockey to keep that in check.
PMHA — What will you miss the most about hockey now that Zoe is off to university?
Mom and Dad — The times we spent just us driving to somewhere and talking. Hockey is something we will always have in common. I will miss the smell of a clean sheet of ice first thing in the morning. I will miss all the great parents that you basically camp out with from September to March.