Six years ago, Zoie Amatore participated in a hockey program at The Ice Zone coached by Youngstown SteelHounds head coach Kevin Kaminski. The lessons made quite an impression on her.
“I was about 5,” Amatore said. “We went a lot to the SteelHounds games. I was the only girl in his camp. It was so fun playing, to be skating.”
Since then, Amatore has mixed it up on the ice, sometimes playing with boys teams and other times with girls travel teams. Trips to suburban Pittsburgh rinks taught her how to budget her time by doing homework in the car.
“Whatever I didn’t finish, I would wake up early and finish it,” Amatore said. “That was a commitment that I had to make.”
Last fall, the OHSAA loosened some restrictions, allowing athletes whose sport is not offered at their school to join their home school’s team. That opened the door for Amatore, a sophomore at Ursuline, to join the Canfield High hockey team, the only high school hockey team in the Mahoning Valley.
Amatore more than held her own.
“She was our best defensive forward and has great hockey sense,” Canfield coach Randy Emery said.
Amazingly, Amatore didn’t play as a freshman as she recovered from a broken hand suffered when she tried to catch a slap shot.
Last fall, she contacted Emery, who invited her to try out.
“He [advised] my Mom that it was boys hockey and they hit,” said Amatore, who admitted the Canfield schedule “is kind of crazy. You don’t get home until 11, 12 from some games. We usually take [homework] on the bus and help each other.”
A bus full of boys — dream come true or a nightmare?
“Definitely a nightmare. They are very loud and can be crazy. But they can be like my brother who’s my best friend at times.”
Her favorite player?
“Sidney Crosby — I aspire to be like him,” Amatore said. “He’s more of a finesse player, which is what I have to be playing with boys.”