In our ongoing series of local hockey profiles, this month we introduce you to Leaside Wildcats player Zarah Manavi.
Manavi, a Grade 8 French immersion student at Northlea School, has been playing with the Toronto Leaside Girls Hockey Association as a Wildcat for the last six years. With no one in her family ever having played hockey, Manavi picked up her desire to play from watching the Toronto Maple Leafs and playing street hockey with friends and neighbours.
Starting in the house league program, Manavi then played on a tournament team, skipped the Select level, and now plays right wing in the competitive league on the Bantam B team coached by Lisa Kroll and Jason Fulsom.
Between the tournament team and the rep team, Manavi has had the chance to travel to London, Huntsville, Waterloo, St. Catharines, and Ottawa.
While she plays hockey almost year-round between regular season games and practices, spring 4-on-4 leagues, and summer training camps, Manavi also plays soccer, rides horses, and, inspired by her grandmother’s incredible painting talents, also paints in her free time.
Family is a great support for both Zarah and her younger brother Nevan. Zarah’s dad coaches Nevan’s hockey team and her mom is the trainer with Zarah’s Bantam team.
What is most impressive about Manavi is her intelligence and maturity. Staying active and having structure in your life to maintain focus are important to her. Playing hockey provides her with a weekly schedule that offers her just that structure. She’s also someone who enjoys school, especially math and science, and would love, one day, to be an orthodontist.
She firmly believes that communication is her greatest strength as a player and that communication is key to the success of a team. She notes, moreover, “I always have to be aware of where I need to be.” As for what hockey brings her? Manavi has enjoyed building her friend group with so many teammates from outside her school and the neighbourhood. “When you meet someone that is on your new hockey team it’s easier to get to know them because you already share a common interest.”
As for hockey idols? Manavi cites both Auston Matthews and Sidney Crosby as players she admires, pointing out that she likes players who “are smart and work hard.”
Manavi is a level-headed, focused, and, as her mother describes her, “very disciplined” teen. Setting her sights on what is best for her own future, but also for the good of her team and teammates, Manavi is a player all coaches would be lucky to have on their roster.