This week’s interview features Pázmándi Zsófia, a young Hungarian girl highly successful in her sport. Born in Kaposvár, she discovered her passion for ice hockey at the age of 11-12 and has since earned various awards. After trying her luck in Canada following high school, she decided to pursue her sports career and studies in America. The article provides insights into her life, challenges, and integration into American university culture.
First, please tell us about where you were born and raised and how you entered the world of hockey
My name is Pázmándi Zsófia, born on December 16, 2002, in Kaposvár. I grew up in Taszár/Kaposvár and attended school there. While trying various sports as a child, I discovered ice hockey at the age of 11-12. My father’s friend suggested ice skating lessons, and after a month, I could decide whether I wanted to continue. That’s how my love for ice hockey began.
After a year of playing, I received the Athlete of the Year award in 2014, providing a significant boost to continue. A year after that, I was called into talent development and later into the national team. Talent development serves as a step before the national team, allowing coaches to assess players for potential selection.
I started high school in Kaposvár and eventually finished it in Budapest as my mother and I moved there to pursue my dreams. Since then, I have joined the national team and participated in two world championships, Senior 2022 in Denmark and the 2023 Brampton Hockey World Championship.
When and why did you decide to move to America?
I always knew I wouldn’t stay in Hungary. After finishing high school, I spent an additional year at home before attending the Ontario Hockey Academy in Canada for about two years. Following that, I decided to come to America to both study and play hockey. I had a strong desire to experience life in America for a long time.
Which university are you attending, and what is your major?
I attend SUNY Plattsburgh, a Division 3 university in the NCAA league. My major is accounting, and I also study business.
What were the crucial factors for you when choosing a university?
I chose a university based on the strength of its team. Unfortunately, I didn’t receive offers from Division 1, so I aimed to join the best Division 3 team possible.
How challenging was it to integrate into university life when you moved to America? Did you have friends to turn to?
When I went to Canada, it wasn’t challenging as I arrived with other Hungarian players. The American university is different; currently, I am the only Hungarian. However, it wasn’t difficult to integrate as my teammates were very welcoming.
How different are ice hockey practices and mentality in America compared to Hungary?
I think the mentality doesn’t differ much between American and European teams, but ice hockey does. It was a bit challenging for me to get used to the completely different playing style, tactics, and expectations of the players. Here in America, they play a more physical style of hockey.
What is your biggest challenge as a student-athlete?
My most significant challenge as a student-athlete is creating time for everything. You need to be very organized to have energy and time for both training and studying. Often, I don’t plan my days, which can make it challenging to allocate tasks for the day. But I have developed a lot in this aspect over the past months.
Being a competitive athlete and consistently performing well in both training and competitions, while maintaining academic performance, isn’t easy. How do you balance your academic and athletic commitments? Do you have a strategy that has proven effective over the years?
To be honest, I don’t have a specific strategy, but what definitely helps us athletes at our university, fortunately, is that our coaches and teachers are very helpful. They do everything to ensure that each of us can maximize our potential, both on the ice and in our studies.
Lastly, but not least, here are some rapid-fire questions:
Burger or Rakott krumpli? Burger
Cheesecake or Somlói galuska? Somlói galuska
Peanut butter and jelly or Palacsinta? Palacsinta
Chicken fried steak or Chicken paprikash? Chicken paprikash
Mac and cheese or Túrós csusza? Mac and cheese
Lánchíd or Brooklyn Bridge? Lánchíd
Balatoni nyaralás or Florida’s sandy beaches? Florida’s sandy beaches
Soccer or American football? American football
The “My America” blog series introduces several successful Hungarian athletes in America, click here and get to know them too!