Zoe Savoie has always been around volleyball, and her interest in playing the sport began at a young age when she was watching her cousin, Stefan Savoie, play.
Stefan was an impactful player who played for Team Canada and represented Manitoba at the Canada Games in beach volleyball. Stefan was well respected throughout the volleyball community and now there is a Stefan Savoie Memorial Scholarship of $1,000 given out to one graduating high school volleyball player each year.
“Just watching my cousins play when I was really young made me want to play,” said Zoe Savoie. “… I just kind of wanted to be like them.”
Family and volleyball had always been tied together in Savoie’s life. So, things weren’t easy when her mom was diagnosed with aggressive brain cancer during last year’s volleyball season.
Savoie said she took a step back from school at the Université de Saint-Boniface, deciding to take a lighter course load of three classes in the first term last year.
“I knew what was coming … her diagnosis wasn’t good,” said Savoie. “So, I knew staying home and spending time with my mom was important.”
Although she took a step back from school, she played the full season with the Les Rouges volleyball team that year.
“I had these two hours of practice, or a game, that could kind of be a release,” said Savoie. “I’m not going to say it was a time to kind of forget about everything, because it still was in the back of my head all the time.”
Savoie said it wasn’t just about getting away for a couple hours, she also played for her mom.
“My mom was super involved in my volleyball career,” she said. “She watched every game that she could on a live stream and everything up until the semi-final when we lost — she was able to watch that one.”
USB’s athletic director, Eric Lemoine, said Savoie put up career best numbers at the MCAC level last season.
Savoie said she thinks she played so well because she knew her mother was watching, and she wanted to make her proud.
Savoie and the Les Rouges lost in the MCAC semi-final last year on Saturday, Feb. 23 — 11 days later, her mom passed away.
This season, the Les Rouges finished in first place with a 17-3 record, but lost in straight sets to the CMU Blazers in this year’s championship game. That was Savoie’s last match with the Les Rouges, as it was her final year of eligibility.
Savoie won’t be on the court, but she’ll be on the USB campus finishing her business administration degree, planning to major in human resources.
“I bet you I’ll probably have a lot of time on my hands next year,” she said while laughing. “It’s going to be weird.”
Savoie said she may not be able to suit up and play for the Les Rouges next season, but she’ll be in the bleachers cheering her former teammates on, like her mom did for her.