When Kelowna native Christi Capozzi was deciding where to take her considerable hockey skills after high school graduation, her heart kept telling her UBC in Vancouver.
And she has her family to thank for that.
Capozzi’s late grandfather Herb was a star football player at UBC in the 1940s. He’s is considered one of UBC’s finest athletes and is a member of the UBC Sports Hall of Fame.
So making the decision to head for UBC after growing up in Kelowna was a pretty easy one for Christi.
“(My grandfather) was an amazing athlete, a multi-sport athlete and it was one of the draws to go to UBC,” said Capozzi this week, in an interview with the Capital News. “I knew how excited him and my dad would be to have me at UBC because he made such an impact in the athletic world here. Just knowing what he did here, it’s been cool to follow in his footsteps.”
Herb Capozzi passed away last year, leaving a long legacy at UBC as captain of the UBC football team in the 1947 and 48 as well as in the Vancouver sports scene over the next several decades. And now Christi is hoping she too can write a nice chapter in UBC Vancouver’s sports history, as the assistant captain and one of the Thunderbirds top female hockey players.
In her fourth season, Capozzi and the T-Birds are having an excellent season of CIS female hockey. At 10-7-3 they sit in fourth place in the eight team league and appear poised to make the playoffs under first year head coach Graham Thomas, who has turned the UBC female hockey program around.
“It’s going really well this year,” said Capozzi. “There has been a big change from last year to this year in terms of the coaching and the attitude. It’s like we started fresh and there is a new attitude and a new direction and it’s been really good.”
Capozzi plays on the team’s top defensive pairing and also plays power play and penalty kill for UBC. An offensive defenceman she has the green-light to jump into the play and create offense and has seven points in the team’s first 20 games.
She says having the experience of her first three years of CIS hockey has helped.
“I think just playing at this level you really get more confidence, you are more relaxed out there,” she said. “My first couple years it was a big adjustment. It was a faster league and it took some getting used to. I’m feeling really good about my game this year.”
The UBC female hockey team has quite the Kelowna flavour. Also on the team is fellow blueliner Sarah Casorso as well as forward Stephanie Schaupmeyer, both of whom played in Kelowna Minor Hockey.
Capozzi herself spent the majority of her minor hockey in the KMHA and then played one year at the Pursuit of Excellence before being offered a scholarship at UBC where she is majoring in kiniseology. She plans on going back to UBC for her fifth and final year of hockey eligibility next year when she will complete her studies as well.
But like the rest of her teammates, they are focussed on the rest of this season where she is hoping to play in the CIS playoffs for the first time.
“I think we can only go up from here,” she said. “We have been building since the beginning of the year and there is no saying what can and can’t be done. I think we have a good chance to do really well. I think everyone is focussed on that and we will see how far we can push this thing.”
UBC is hosting the University of Saskatchewan this weekend for a pair of games.