The Rotary Club of Penticton Sunrise is delighted to recognize Manjot (Manny) Panghli as Rotary SOM for January. He is described as an immensely gifted, hard-working and compassionate Grade 12 student-athlete at Penticton Secondary School,
Panghli, who is 16 years old, is the younger of two children in a close-knit, community-minded family. Well-coached at home in core life skills conducive to self-fulfillment and career success, he has harnessed his inquisitive-fuelled intellect, grit and high-octane energy to excel in hockey and scholastics while undertaking impactful charitable activities.
Panghli epitomizes the elite student-athlete. Known for being highly motivated, self-disciplined and driven, he eagerly embraces the pursuit of excellence, both in the classroom at Pen High and in the well-structured training environment at the Okanagan Hockey Academy.
His childhood was spent in Merritt and he moved to Kamloops in June 2018, before relocating to Penticton this past September to enrol in the OHA. Unlike many hockey greats, including Wayne Gretzky, who began skating at age two, Panghli did not start playing hockey until age 8, becoming a goalie at age 10.
But, Panghli has played competitive (rep level) hockey since grade 7. Last season, he enjoyed a banner year, backstopping the Thompson Blazers U16 AAA team to a 12-4 record, while garnering the team’s MVP award for his strong play and quiet leadership qualities.
“Manny has matured into an accomplished, personable and well-rounded young man with excellent leadership and interpersonal skills,” Blazers’ coach, Crosby Dorais said.
Currently, Panghli is affiliated with the Salmon Arm Silverbacks of the BCHL. Last month he was added to the protected list of the Spokane Chiefs, opening the door for him to advance to Major Junior A (Tier 1 level) next year.
OHA U17 Prep Team Coach Robert Dirk said, “Manny’s development has been incredible in his 4 months here, enabling him to become one of the most promising goalies in the program. Mature and genuine, he is an avid student who listens carefully to instructions and focuses on the finer elements that separate the premier players from the rest.”
Panghli’s fervent desire to excel extends to the classroom. Last year, he carried a demanding load of 10 in-school and online courses, including English 10 and 11, pre-calculus 11 and 12, biol 11 and chem 11, recording an average grade of 93%. This fall session at Pen High, he achieved an average grade of 92% in 6 courses, providing him with sufficient credits to graduate early.
Panghli’s favourite subjects are English and history, as they afford him “an opportunity to gain insight into different cultures and traditions.”
“Manny is one of the most amazing young people I have met in my 26 years of teaching. My job is to instill confidence, compassion, and knowledge and yet I feel – in teaching Manny – that I too have been enriched,” Pen High English teacher Wayne Kuechle said.
”He has such a genuine passion, fuelled by a big heart, that he transforms into action to make an impactful difference.”
Pen High history teacher, Russell Reid added, “In class, Manny is always actively engaged, asking probing questions in order to fully understand the subject material. He ‘speaks softly but carries a big stick’-that is, while he is reserved, his actions, empathy and insight hold great weight.”
Panghli’s humanitarian work began while attending Merritt Central Elementary School when he noticed that some fellow students were coming to school on an empty stomach.
This led him and his older sister, Simren, to enlist local businesses to support the school-based breakfast program. A second food drive was undertaken in December 2017 with them raising $1,000, a donation sufficient to cover two months of nutritious breakfasts. Last June, in response to COVID-19, Manny himself collected 166 pounds of food items for the Kamloops Food Bank.
“A quiet leader who earns respect through his ability and actions, Manny has a bright future in hockey. But hockey is really only part of who Manny is. He is dedicated to his family and very sincere and considerate to others. Very few people have the vision to see the needs of others like Manny does. He is, in fact, one of the kindest and caring young men I have ever met during my 30 years in education,” Dave Nackoney, OHA counsellor at Pen High said.
Last month, he personally obtained a #RisingYouth community service grant for $750 from TakingITGlobal, a Toronto-based charity NGO, in support of the local Salvation Army Food Bank.
Panghli is quick to credit Simren, his enduring role model, and her intrinsic altruism for igniting his burning passion for helping others.
During quiet moments, Panghli enjoys reading history and cooking tandoori chicken and other scrumptious traditional Punjabi dishes for family and friends.
Where Panghli goes from here – possibly to make the Spokane Chiefs’ roster or to enrol in BSC studies at Thompson Rivers University -- is anyone’s guess. But one prediction seems certain. Given his unquenchable thirst for knowledge, grit, strong work ethic and humble, caring demeanour, he seems destined to enjoy a prolific and rewarding career while enriching the lives of many others along the way.