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Highlighting Women in Sports: Kelsey Koelzer

Kelsey Koelzer is an ice hockey defender who is currently serving as head coach of the Arcadia University women’s ice hockey program. She is the first black female head coach in NCAA ice hockey history.

She was drafted first overall by the Metropolitan Riveters in the 2016 NWHL Draft. She was the first black player to be the first overall pick in a professional North American hockey league draft. The same year she was also named ECAC hockey best defender of the year.

During her time playing with the Riveters, she helped win the Isobel Cup Championship in 2018 and shared the MVP honor at the league's All-Star Game that year with forward Hayley Scamurra.

She suffered injuries during her seasons in the NWHL where she only scored 14 points (five goals and nine assists) in 20 games.

She joined the Professional Women’s Hockey Player Association (PWHPA) in 2019 after playing two seasons with the Riveters. In 2019, Koelzer was also named to the NHL and National Hockey League Players’ Association Female Hockey Advisory Committee. She is dedicated to accelerating the growth of female hockey in North America.

She participated in the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association’s Dream Gap tour in March 2020 which helped to promote, advance, and support a single, viable professional women’s hockey league in North America.

She played at Princeton University from 2013-17 and she was a captain during her senior year. She scored 100 points (39 goals, 61 assists) in 128 games. She earned first-team All-American, Ivy League Player of the Year and first-team All-Ivy League honors during her four years there.

This 27-year-old has been building the program at Arcadia University from scratch and inspiring and guiding the youth that wants to follow in her footsteps.

Coaching at Arcadia, which is in Glenside, Pennsylvania, is a sort of a homecoming for Koelzer as she was raised in Horsham, PA.

Some of her role models include Jarome Iginla and Cara Gardner Morey. Iginla is a former NHL forward who scored 1,300 points. Morey is Princeton University women’s hockey head coach. She has said that the leadership and teaching skills that Koelzer showed on the ice and in the locker room are great and will help her with her coaching at Arcadia.

She loves taking time to sign autographs and embraced being a role model as a player. She chats with girls and women of color about getting involved in hockey. She continues to inspire women to play and get involved and she shows every day that she loves what she is doing and is good at it.

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