Shoreline resident honored by American Hockey Coaches Association

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Zoë Harris receives the Joe Burke award
from Joe Bertagna of the AHCA
Zoë Harris of Shoreline was recently honored with the 2018 Joe Burke award, given annually by American Hockey Coaches Association (AHCA) to the person who has given outstanding contribution, support, and dedication to women's ice hockey.

At the awards ceremony held in Naples, FL Harris says, “It truly is an honor to receive this award and I accept it on behalf of the hundreds of volunteers that help grow the game for female players.”

For the last 30 years Zoë has been working to grow female hockey across the country as a player, coach, and administrator. A native of Barrington, Rhode Island, Harris moved to Seattle, Washington 25 years ago and in 1995 began coaching girls' hockey with Cindy Dayley.

Zoë Harris and Cindy Dayley were the
first women to coach men's collegiate
ice hockey - at the UW
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.

Zoë Harris
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 honor (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.

Washington Wild at Highland Ice Arena in Shoreline
Photo courtesy Highland Ice

In 2012 Harris started coaching for the Western Washington Female Hockey Association (WWFHA) and the Washington Wild in Shoreline, 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.

The program operates out of Highland Ice Arena at 18005 Aurora Ave N.

In 2014 Harris left the high tech sector to work full-time for the organization where she serves as the Executive Director of Operations with the goal of growing the game for girls in Washington State.

In the last three years, her goal was to help empower the student-athletes on and off the ice and she spearheaded such programs as the Pro-Staff program, which connected leaders in the community with the teams to mentor the student-athletes in the college admissions process, the college hockey process, sports nutrition, well-body image counseling, sports psychology, student counseling and more.

Zoë also implemented the first Girls' Try Hockey for Free events and a first Girls’ Learn to Play beginner program in the state, which resulted in a 133% increase in membership, including the development of a first-ever all-girls league in Washington State.

Joe Burke Award 2018
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.

The Joe Burke Award was established in 1994 to honor those individuals who have shown great support and dedication to Girls/Women's hockey.


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