CHUCK KUEPFER, Staff Reporter
A local writer's account of her introduction to hockey through her youngest son is among the stories in the latest edition of the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series.
The special edition entitled Hooked on Hockey features 101 stories "about players who love the game and the families that cheer them on."
The submissions come from a handful of professional players past and present — including Hayley Wickenheiser, Matt Duchene, Vinny Prospal, Ryan Walter and Georges Laraque — as well as everyday Canadians such as Elmira's Lori Zenker.
"My son was eight when he wanted to start hockey," recalls Zenker.
Her and her husband Mike didn't pay much attention to the request, since neither of his older brothers had ever played.
When the Zenkers moved to Elmira from Waterloo they had purchased a pair of road hockey nets which soon led to many games among the neighbourhood's kids. That proved to be trigger for their youngest child, Simon, who wanted to try ice hockey.
The Zenkers relented and signed their son up with the Woolwich Minor Hockey Association. Lori's adventure as a new hockey mom provided great fodder for the story Blindsided by Hockey which she submitted for the Chicken Soup book.
"He was doing really bad, but he kept up with it," said Zenker, who said she always encourages her children not to quit when the going gets tough.
For Zenker, who graduated from Wilfrid Laurier University with an English degree, writing has been a part of her life for a long time.
"I've been writing freelance for 20 years," she said.
Zenker has published the children's book Promiseland, a workbook that teaches young readers to trust in God.
The Chicken Soup for the Soul books, known for their inspiring stories, provide another outlet for her work. It's the second time Zenker has been published in the series. She also had a story in last year's Chicken Soup for the Soul: O Canada edition, which was among 101 heartwarming stories written by Canadians for Canadians.
"They are both about hockey in Elmira," said Zenker, who notes she always has a number of writing projects on the go. "The Chicken Soup books are kind of good because it gives you a deadline and a topic."
The Hooked On Hockey edition is the latest in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. More than 100 million titles from the series have been sold in and 40 languages and over 100 countries since their debut in 1993. USA Today has named the series one of the top five most memorable and impactful books of the past quarter century.
Zenker said the process for submitting a story for publication in one of the Chicken Soup books is not that complicated, and stories are wanted for a wide variety of topics.
"I'd encourage people to try it out," she said. "I talk to people who have amazing stories."