First Black college hockey coach recruiting school’s first team

Courtesy of Twitter

Kelsey Koelzer hasn’t lost a game since she was named last fall as Arcadia (Pa.) University head women’s hockey coach. Nor has she won any games, since her team doesn’t begin play until the 2021-22 season.

Koelzer’s hiring is significant for a couple of historic reasons: First, she is the school’s first-ever women’s hockey coach. Second, she is the country’s first Black head coach in men’s or women’s college hockey.

The Horsham, Pa. native is accustomed to being the “first ever.” Koelzer was the first Black ever drafted overall in a pro hockey draft (NWHL, 2016). She was Princeton’s first-ever three-time, first-team All American hockey player, leading the Tigers to the 2016 Ivy League championship and that year’s Frozen Four in Minneapolis.

Now Koelzer is applying her trailblazing experience to building Arcadia’s first women’s hockey program from scratch. The school’s men’s hockey program also is starting in 2021-22. 

On coaching, she said, “It always was something that was on my radar, in the back of my mind as I saw myself.” She previously coached at Princeton Hockey Youth Camps for three years, and also worked with the National Collegiate Development Camp in 2017.

“Coaching definitely always has been a consideration for me, something I thought about while I was in college and after college. We have a good timeline to recruit and build a program, finding the right players athletically and academically,” Koelzer continued. 

Playing for a Division III school, both hockey teams will play in the United Collegiate Hockey Conference (UCHC). Koelzer said that the Philadelphia area—Arcadia is located 20 miles outside the city—“is the perfect location… [We] still have that campus and still have that amazing opportunity to be in a downtown urban area.

“There are a lot of benefits, especially at the Division III level, to find players who love the sport,” the coach said. She is also realistic in knowing there will be some rough spots in the early going, but she looks forward to the challenge of developing players as she builds the foundation of her program.

Koelzer is looking for players “first and foremost in the beginning of my recruiting effort” who understand the importance, in this order, of academics and sports. These players “are hardworking, have a lot of integrity, and a lot of discipline as well. I’m excited.”

Post-season awards

Photo by Charles Hallman Jasmine Powell (l) and Jasmine Brunson

Several sistahs earlier this month were honored with post-season awards:

MIAC: Augsburg senior hockey player Nikki Nightengale became a third-time all-conference. Tamira McLemore (WBB) became the 18th woman in MIAC WBB history to be a four-time all-conference player. She, teammate Kaezha Wubben, and St. Catherine’s Danica Cambrice, all three seniors, were the only Blacks on this year’s all-defensive team. 

Auggies senior center Camryn Speese won her second All-MIAC team selection, the only pivot player on the post-season team. Seniors Wubben, Arianna Jones, Aiza Wilson and junior Jazmyn Solseth all made MIAC honorable mention.

Big Ten: Senior Taiye Bello was a conference second-team selection both by the coaches and media. She was an honorable mention pick last season. Senior Jasmine Brunson was Minnesota’s Big Ten Sportsmanship Award representative for the second straight year. Redshirt junior Gadiva Hubbard was an all-Big Ten honorable mention honoree (media). Freshman Jasmine Powell was a consensus pick for both all-Big Ten honorable mention and all-freshman team honors.

Powell and fellow classmate Sara Scalia became the Gophers’ second-best freshmen scoring duo. Her coach, Lindsay Whalen, and Tanisha Gilbert (2000-01) were the school’s best first-year duo.

About Charles Hallman

Charles Hallman is a contributing writer at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder. He can be reached at challman@spokesman-recorder.com

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