Simonte shares love for field hockey, Hearts 4 Hockey


Photo contributed by Zoe Simonte ’23.

Simonte shares her love of field hockey with other individuals who have neuro-developmental challenges. She volunteers at a local facility and has created a floor hockey program for members to engage in.

After a severe injury that took Zoe Simonte ’23 out right before her junior year field hockey season, she pivoted to a new outlet of field hockey, Hearts 4 Hockey. 

Hearts 4 Hockey works with a non-profit organization that serves teens in the area who have neuro-developmental challenges. On Friday nights the organization features an activity that attracts  special needs teens across the region. Simonte enjoys getting to teach the members field hockey since it was such a large attribute of her life.

“Since field hockey has been fundamental to my development, I created an adaptive floor hockey program where all the teens, regardless of physical or cognitive abilities, are able to participate, feel included and empowered by learning a new skill,” Simonte said. “My job is done if they walk off feeling like they are capable and not ‘less than.’ Weaknesses are not strengths, just like what I used when I got hurt.”

Simonte was inspired to start Hearts 4 Hockey after she built relationships and motivated the players from the sidelines of the field hockey field due to her injury. Her love for the close community and the lessons she learned from her coaches inspired her to take on this new mission at Healing Hearts, which shares a similar mission as Simonte. They provide recreational activities for children and adapt those activities to accommodate their individual’s needs. 

One of my favorite moments was when I helped a boy who is blind make a goal. Like any team sport, it creates bonds and can’t really work without cooperation.

— Zoe Simonte ’23

I liked being in the position of a role model and had lots of time to reflect on how much I’d grown since I started,” Simonte said.

Simonte started this initiative at a facility she had been volunteering at for a while. None of the people she was working with had ever played hockey or field hockey before, so she was eager to introduce them to something she was passionate about. After getting approval, she found ways to supply the appropriate materials needed to play.

“I asked the owner, who was very excited, and made it happen. I set up a Gofundme for equipment and found soft hockey sticks and balls, kind of like the ones we use in gym class,” Simonte said.

Simonte loves getting to see the growth in self-confidence that is displayed in the members. She shares that she too has found a deeper level of confidence within herself while working with the members. The bonds and community she has fostered with the organization has been incredibly rewarding.

“One of my favorite moments was when I helped a boy who is blind make a goal. Like any team sport, it creates bonds and can’t really work without cooperation,” Simonte said.

With the abundance of press and recognition that Hearts 4 Hockey has received, Simonte has been challenged to go out of her comfort zone and be a leader. While at first it was overwhelming, Simonte is thankful for the confidence it has brought her.

“I’m not someone who likes to be on camera or under their spotlight,” Simonte said. “The whole experience has challenged me to step out of my comfort zone and actually lead something, but I’m glad it did because it’s made me more confident in who I am/being myself.”