Hamline Hockey Hall of Fame Coach

Women’s hockey coach at Hamline and Minnesota native is getting inducted into the Minnesota Sports Hall of Fame.

Jilly Wortman, Sports Reporter

Three-time Olympian Natalie Darwitz has been in the hockey world since she was young, introduced to the sport by her older brother and father. 

“When I turned 5 years old, I said ‘I get to play hockey this year’ and they signed me up and the rest is history,” Darwitz said.

When Darwitz started, hockey was still a very male-dominated sport and she spent a lot of her early years playing against boys. 

“I was in 7th or 8th grade in 1998 and that was the first time women’s hockey was in the Olympics, and that’s when I realized there was more to this rather than just being a ‘man’s’ sport, it gave me a lot of hope and opportunity,” Darwitz said.

After seeing women on the national stage, the process began for Darwitz.

“On my journey, it was just one thing led to another. Whether it was me playing with the boys or me playing high school hockey in 7th grade to making the national team when I was fifteen years old, it kinda was just one stepping stone after another.”

After conquering each stepping stone, Darwitz made it to her first Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah while a senior at Eagan High School. 

courtesy of Hamline Athletics

“The crazy thing is, I go to the Olympics on the world stage and two weeks later I’m back in the classroom raising my hand to go to the bathroom,” said Darwitz. 

During this year, the US Women’s Hockey team won a silver medal. But, there was something that was bigger for Darwitz. 

“Getting on the ice and seeing a corner of my friends and family there hit the heart hard, so many people helped me and sacrificed so much to go the extra mile. They’re a big reason as to why I was there,” Darwitz said. 

Darwitz continued to compete in two more Olympics, 2006 and 2010, where the US team won two more medals. There was an overlap during her college career and her time on the US team. While in college at the U of M, she was a three time, All-American athlete. 

Once Darwitz’s time playing was done, she began coaching at her high school alma mater with her father. She then moved up to coaching DivisionⅠback at the U of M but returned back to the high school level after two years. 

It was not until 2015 when Darwitz joined the Hamline Athletics staff. 

“I got a random voicemail from Jason Verdugo,” Darwitz said. 

Verdugo was looking for a new women’s hockey coach to revamp the team, and was wondering if Darwitz had any contacts. 

He offered her the job and initially she said no, but “over the next few weeks the more and more I thought about it, I knew it would be a good fit for me,” Darwitz said. 

Now, it has been six years and the women’s hockey team has made it to two Frozen Fours and have had a national ranking consistently for the last 4 years.