Kelsey Koelzer is a name that many are not familiar with, but more should know. The Pennsylvania native has recently made history as the first Black woman to serve as the head coach of an NCAA hockey program. While this is an astounding feat, this is not the first time she's made history in hockey. As a college student, she served as the captain of the Princeton University hockey team and became the first Black woman to be drafted first overall into the Women's National Hockey League.
"At the time I didn’t know that I was the first African American to be drafted first overall in North American Professional Hockey," Koelzer told FOX 29.
"Finding that out didn’t make that moment really special."
Koelzer may be the first Black woman to enter into the space she currently occupies, but she is moving mountains to make sure that she is not the last. In recent years, the sport has grown within underrepresented communities with initiatives like the Black Girl Hockey Club and players like Saroya Tinker. However, there is still more room for it to grown. Koelzer looks at the WNBA as a potential model for how women's hockey can grow.
"I think it is pretty far off, if I am being fair and realistic. I mean the WNBA has made amazing strides in the time that they have been pushing forward, but it has taken them a while for them to get to where they are," she explained.
"I think that women’s hockey is still at the starting block. I think that it is going to take some time and take that support and that effort from folks on the men’s side to really grow our sport and gain traction for the amazing product that we are trying to put on the ice."
Koelzer is currently focused on growing the women's hockey program at Arcadia University. As the head coach, Koelzer has recruited nearly two dozen players and she's working toward building a new normal post-pandemic.
"I have something special to offer to these girls and these women that are coming through Arcadia University," she added.
"To be myself and share that love with them and share my energy and love for the sport is the one thing that I am really looking forward to."
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