She’s a pioneer!
Kelsey Koelzer is making history as the first Black head hockey coach in the NCAA’s 115-year history, Black Enterprise reports.
Koelzer got her start playing hockey for Princeton University, getting drafted as the No.1 pick in the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL). She would play three seasons, one of the few Black women hockey players in a white male-dominated sport. She constantly felt underrepresented.
“I’ve been shouting that from the rooftops from the time I entered college. Because one, hockey was not a huge sport for girls, and two, especially not minorities, so to speak. Tackling the female in a male sport, you kind of have to get that under control first in order to make it more accessible to Blacks, whites, Asians, any ethnicity, any race,” Koelzer said.
Now she has parlayed her love for the game into an official leadership position with Arcadia University. She is taking on the role of head hockey coach while making NCAA history.
“It’s gonna be weird for me. For 20 plus years, I have been on the other side of it, so being behind the bench is just gonna be a completely new experience that I’ll get to live through like I’m playing the sport for the first time again,” Koelzer admitted.
She is committed to inspiring the next generation of Black women hockey players by working as head coach and advisor to the commissioner on diversity, equity, and inclusion for the NWHL. Koelzer hopes that more women understand that they can take a seat at whatever table they like, and she plans to help them get there.
“If you have the love for the game, the skill, put in the hard work, then you belong there and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise,” she said.
Although she is trailblazing a path in hockey, it is her hope that many more will run through the doors she’s currently opening.
“I do sit there and recognize that I am the first in some senses, but I think it’s exciting to know that I won’t be the last,” Koelzer said.