Hockey has taken her from Grahamstown’s Kwathatha eJoza township to America and Australia and now Thando Zono has written and published a book on how she did it.
And although Zono, 26, can no longer play hockey due to a knee injury, she is still actively involved in coaching the sport.
She describes herself as a motivational speaker and with this in mind has written the non-fiction book, The Pursuit of Excellence: Learning to Be Nothing Short Of Extraordinary.
“This is a true-life account of my journey in hockey that brought me from a small town in the Eastern Cape to landing a full athletic scholarship at a Division One US university, and the lessons learned to get to that level and excel in it,” Zono said in an e-mail interview.
“The reason for the book was to encourage literacy among young people, show them that anything is possible and no matter the adversity, they should go after their goals relentlessly.”
The former national hockey player attended Rhodes University and while still studying there accepted a full athletic scholarship to the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass).
A member of the South African hockey squad from the age of 15, Zono started playing the fast team sport when she was nine.
“I got involved in the sport because it was offered at my school and I was running away from something [I explain it in my book],” the former Victoria Primary and Victoria Girls High pupil said. When she finished at UMass she was named First Team All American, graduated and then moved to Perth, Australia, where she played club hockey full-time.
“Soon after I got into motivational speaking after having extensive knee reconstructive surgeries and could no longer play, but I wanted to have a positive impact on athletes and students and share my story with them.” She hopes to return home early next year to visit her mother Boniwe, who works in human resources at the Makana municipality.