Hamline hires world class coach

Natalie Darwitz becomes the fourth head coach for Hamline’s women’s hockey team.

Jake Kjos, Reporter

Hamline announced the hiring of Natalie Darwitz on April 6, who will serve as the fourth ever head coach for the women’s hockey team.

“My background as a player speaks for itself,” Darwitz said. “I’m going to bring my experiences as a player and use them as part of my own coaching style.”

As a three-time Olympian in women’s hockey and an All-American at the University of Minnesota, who is also the leader in points scored for the program, Darwitz brings name recognition to the job. She was also an assistant coach at the University of Minnesota for two years, where she coached under her father.

Darwitz said she looked up to her father Scott when it came to coaching, as well as Brad Frost, the Gophers women’s hockey head coach. Hamline Athletic Director Jason Verdugo said coaching is something that runs in her family.

“It’s in her blood,” Verdugo said, “as far as teaching the game, what she did for women’s hockey is remarkable.”

Darwitz left her coaching job at Lakeville South High School, a team she led to a state tournament, to join the Pipers. Verdugo liked what she did there because high school coaches aren’t able to recruit, and it showed her ability to develop athletes.

Along with developing talent, Darwitz wants to instill life values in her players.

“If they do the best they can do, they’ll get better,” she said.

Darwitz has three core values she wants to instill in her athletes.

“Hard work, discipline, and enjoying what you do,” Darwitz said.

Despite being pursued by Division I schools, Darwitz chose Hamline because it gives her more time for her personal life.

“Hamline has the work and life balance for me. D I is a different beast. If you’re not on the road for games, you’re on the road recruiting,” she said.

Darwitz liked the message Verdugo pitched to her and wanted to help Hamline improve.

“Jason reached out. I was intrigued by what he was doing. Hamline sports are going in the right direction,” Darwitz said. “D III, with the home-and-home series, is a perfect fit.”

Darwitz will look to turn around a team that went 6-17-4 (4-12-2 MIAC) last season. The Hamline women’s hockey program started in the 2000-01 season, and they have only had two winning seasons since.

Natalie Darwitz will take the reins as the Piper women's hockey head coach.
Amber Osmonson
Natalie Darwitz will take the reins as the Piper women’s hockey head coach.

Junior Jenny Magill, defender for the Pipers women’s hockey team, was excited about the new hire. Growing up, Magill heard about Darwitz when she was a member of the Gophers hockey team.

“She was a huge role model for female hockey players when I was growing up,” Magill said.

Magill explained what the team is anticipating now that Darwitz is their coach.

“We expect to be pushed to our limits on and off the ice,” Magill said.

Magill relayed the message that Darwitz wants the team to be skating and ready to go by the time the season comes around next fall.

“We know change needs to happen for us to be successful,” Magill said.