On Sunday evening Hockey New Zealand were shocked to learn of the passing of the Vantage Black Sticks’ longtime strength and conditioning coach Brad Conza.
Brad has been part of the Vantage Black Sticks women’s squad and development programme for over ten years and has left a massive impact on all the players who have been involved with his knowledge and commitment as well as his great sense of humour and kind heart.
Brad played an essential role in helping the New Zealand women become one of the world’s top-ranked teams. During his time, our athletes have been credited as being one of the fittest and fastest teams in the world, which is a testament to the work that Brad put into our team. Brad was a leader in his field, and the respect he had in this industry was immense.
Our Vantage Black Sticks Women are working through the most appropriate way to honour Brad ahead of the FIH Pro League match against the USA this weekend.
Hockey New Zealand CEO Ian Francis said “Brad has left an amazing legacy within the Vantage Black Sticks Women’s program. He was exceptionally well regarded both by Hockey New Zealand and the athletes and sports he has worked with. Brad will be missed by all and our thoughts go out to his family during what is a tough time.”
Experienced defender for the Vantage Black Sticks Women Brooke Neal said “B-rad. I’ve been struggling to put into words just what an impact and a legacy you have had on me and the entire Black Sticks Whanau. You are the kindest, most positive person I have ever met. You are the heart of this team. You made every single person feel seen, heard and valued. You never ever complained and comforted us through our hardest days, even when you were struggling with your own health. You were always, without exception, smiling ear to ear and offering a bear hug, fist bump, gangsta handshake or sometimes all of the above. You had a silly nickname for every one of us, making us feel special. We hope to do you proud B-radicle, to take your legacy and use it as fuel. Not so long ago you showed me your mural design and asked me what I thought of the quote you chose. “Seek the treasure that you value most dearly. If you bow your head, let it be to a lofty mountain” So, so fitting, you have left your sparkle and good vibes everywhere”.
High-Performance Sport New Zealand CEO Michael Scott said “Brad was exceptionally highly regarded as a strength and conditioning coach and as a person, both by his colleagues here at High-Performance Sport New Zealand and among the many athletes and sports he worked with over the years. Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with his family and friends at this sad time”.
Former Football Ferns defender Kirsty Hill commented “Brad was the great big smile when we thought there was nothing to smile about. He was the extra shuttle when we didn’t think we had another one in us. He put the fun back in football when we thought there was no more fun to be had.
Brad, you helped us thrive, and you kept us safe. Your positive energy and love for people will not only live on in your most prized possession, Chloe, but will never be forgotten by the Ferns you helped. Rest in love, big man!! We love you!”
A ‘Give A Little’ page has been set up to help support his family, to donate please click here