The American Hockey Coaches Association (AHCA) announced its major awards for 2018 -- eight individuals who have made unique contributions to amateur hockey in the United States -- including WWFHA's executive director, Zoë Harris, the recipient of the Joe Burke Award. The recipients will be recognized either during the 2018 AHCA Convention in Naples, Florida.
The AHCA press release:
THE JOE BURKE AWARD: Presented annually to the person who has given outstanding contribution, support, and dedication to women's ice hockey." It is named in honor of a girls' and women's hockey "superfan," Joe Burke.
2018 Recipient: Zoë M. Harris, ACHA Women's Hockey | University of Washington men's hockey | Western Washington Female Hockey Association
For the last 30 years Zoë M. Harris has been working to grow female hockey across the country as a player, coach, and administrator. A native of Barrington, Rhode Island, Harris graduated from the University of Maine (1992) with a degree in Mass Communications, where she played for the women's non-varsity ice hockey team for four years and served as a team captain and club president.
Harris moved to Seattle, Washington 25 years ago and in 1995 began coaching girls' hockey with Cindy Dayley. They formed the first girls' elite travel AAA rep team in Seattle with the mission of skill development, building strength of character, and exposure to collegiate coaches. By the second year, the team went undefeated 19-0 and won the Canadian Lower Mainland Female Hockey League Championship title -- the first US team to ever win the title. They also helped several players secure positions on collegiate NCAA teams for the first time in the area.
In 1996 the pair joined together with a Canadian coach to form the 49th Parallel Program -- camps, clinics, and teams to enhance elite level female players' skills by holding ice sessions and workshops that mentored players in the college placement process, goal setting, visualization, and thinking in ways to create success. Players were showcased to collegiate scouts for more exposure to the talent in the Northwest of the US and Southwest Canada. Several players earned immediate scholarships to play NCAA D1.
In the fall of 1998, the female duo was hired to coach the men's ice hockey team at the University of Washington (UW), where Harris served as assistant coach. The team then joined in the PAC8 Conference in the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) Men's Division 2 bracket. In the 6-year tenure (1998-2004) the coaching pair earned a win-loss record of 104-42-1, breaking all team records. Their coaching paraphernalia is at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto for being the first women to coach men's collegiate ice hockey.
In 1999, while she was coaching the UW Huskies, Harris noted the growth of women's collegiate hockey through the numerous non-varsity "club" teams. She envisioned bringing all the existing women's teams together under the ACHA banner alongside the well-established ACHA D1, D2, and D3 men's teams, with the goal to grow the sport throughout the country and allow them to vie for a national championship and individual awards. She proposed the development of a Women's Division within the ACHA, and convinced the ACHA to support this effort on April 29, 2000.
On Saturday October 14, 2000 with a game between the University of Michigan and the University of Buffalo, the first-ever national division for ACHA women started with 12 teams. Five months later, the first-ever Women's National Championship took place.
Harris grew the ACHA Women's division by 30% within four years and since it has expanded into two divisions with over 30 teams in each division.
The ACHA Women's Division later named the annual Player of The Year award in her name (for both Women's Division 1 and Division 2), for which she presents a commemorative watch annually. In 2014, she was entered into the ACHA Hall of Fame with the Builder Award.
In 2012 she started coaching for the Western Washington Female Hockey Association (WWFHA) and the Washington Wild in Seattle, WA – the only girls' hockey association in Washington State. She joined the Board of Directors and previously served as the vice president and treasurer, while volunteering to manage day-to-day operations.
In 2014 Harris left the high tech sector to volunteer full-time for the organization with the goal of growing the game for girls in Washington State. In 2017, Harris was hired as the organization's first employee serving as the Executive Director of Operations. In the last 3 years, she spearheaded such programs as the Pro-Staff program , the Honorary Board, Girls' Try Hockey for Free events, and a new Learn to Play program, resulting in a 133% increase in membership, including the support of a first-ever all-girls league in Washington State.
Harris is passionate about the sport of ice hockey, managing sports organizations, and teaching young people how to make the most of their experiences both on and off the ice. She fully believes that the ice hockey empowers girls so they may reach their goals on and off the ice, and better serve their communities.