It seems as though there is nothing that Kelsey Koelzer cannot do; as a former NWHL player for the Metropolitan Riveters, member of the NHL/NHLPA Female Hockey Advisory Committee, a player for the PWHPA and the first African American to be top draft pick at the highest level in American hockey. On top of her many accomplishments, she looks to add the title of head coach to her arsenal.
One can only wonder what great things Koelzer is going to accomplish as the head coach of the new women’s ice hockey program at Arcadia University. Even though this is her first time coaching at the NCAA level, she has had experience coaching for several different levels of hockey.
Koelzer reflected on her experience prior to accepting her new position, “I have been involved in coaching or mentoring high level hockey players really since beginning college. Staying involved through various elite hockey camps and programs in addition to assisting with high school level hockey practices.”
She also explained that she assisted with those practices while attending her own practices and keeping herself in shape.
Even though she does not begin coaching officially until the 2021-2022 season, she explains she is looking for “small successes” in her first year and that she wants to hold her team to a high standard. No surprise there as Koelzer herself attended the Olympic tryouts in 2016—high standards is in her nature.
For her first coaching season, she is most excited about giving players the experience to take their game to the next level in college. She explains, “It’s special to see your hard work through youth hockey pay off in a big way getting the chance to play college hockey and I’m looking forward to seeing the players get to experience that as well.”
As women’s hockey continues to grow, it’s also becoming more diverse. Koelzer discusses how she feels being among the few African American and female coaches at the college level:
“I think it speaks volumes to where the game of hockey is heading and allows me the opportunity to be a role model and example for not only other minority hockey players, but those in power positions to hopefully make the sport of hockey as accepting and open as possible.”
She also explained that she draws upon several coaching techniques from former coaches she played for in her youth and in college. She feels their experience and mentorship has helped her in more ways than one and she looks forward to bringing that knowledge to lead her own team.
Moreover, Koelzer wants to see the game of hockey grow even more for women across all levels. As a member of the PWHPA, she is a part of the push for a more sustainable league.
“I hope to see more viable options for women to continue showcasing their skill and talent and be treated with more equality and respect,” she says.
With people like Koelzer, there is nothing but positivity and hope for the future of women’s hockey at the professional level. She continues to make moves for herself in the world of hockey and is undoubtedly proving to young girls, especially young girls of color, that they have a place in ice hockey.
Kelsey Koelzer is definitely someone to keep an eye on, as she beings her inaugural season of coaching in 2021-2022. Given all of her success as a player, it is almost certain that the women who become players on her team, are in good hands.
Feature Image: Teri Di-Lauro/PWHPA