University of Minnesota women’s hockey coach Brad Frost has announced that former Gopher great and two-time United States Olympian Natalie Darwitz has been named an assistant coach of the Golden Gopher program. Darwitz, who helped lead Minnesota to back-to-back national championships, will begin her coaching responsibilities August 25th.
“We are very pleased to have Natalie return to the Gopher women’s hockey staff,” Frost said. “Natalie was a great player during her time at the University of Minnesota and we know that she will add great value to our program. As the captain of the U.S. National Team, she brings a wealth of experience at the international and Olympic level that will benefit our student athletes."
Darwitz, who finished her Gopher career in 2005, went on to compete in her second-straight Olympics in 2006. Following her second Olympic stint, Darwitz started her coaching career last year as an assistant coach with Eagan High School. There, she helped coach the forwards with her father and head coach Scott Darwitz. In her year with the Wildcats, Darwitz helped Eagan to its first state championship berth in four years with a 20-9-1 overall record.
In just 99 career games for the Gophers, Darwitz set a school record of 246 points when she tallied 102 goals and 144 assists. In her final year with Minnesota, Darwitz scored 42 goals and 72 assists for 114 points, breaking the NCAA record for points in a single season. The Patty Kazmaier Award finalist led the country in points per game (2.85) and assists (72). The three-time first-team All-American was named the Most Outstanding Player for her performance at the 2005 NCAA Frozen Four. Not only did Darwitz set the record for points in the NCAA tournament (3-6-9), she also scored the game-winning goal for the Gophers with one minute and eight seconds remaining in the contest to lead them to their second national championship in two years. Darwitz, the 2005 Western Collegiate Hockey Association's Scoring Champion, tallied 72 points in conference action alone and was named a first-team All-WCHA selection for the third straight season. As a freshman, she was also named the WCHA Rookie of the Year, the Gophers first honor.
On the USA Hockey front, Darwitz and Team USA earned a silver medal at the 2002 Winter Olympics and a bronze medal in 2006. She recently helped the U.S. National Team to a gold medal at the IIHF world championships. Since joining Team USA, Darwitz has been on seven world championship teams and was the youngest player to be selected to the national team at age 15. In May, Darwitz received USA Hockey’s Bob Johnson award, which is given to a U.S. athlete who has excelled on the international scene in the past year. A current member of the U.S. National Team, Darwitz will coach the Gophers as well as train with the U.S. National Team in Blaine, Minn.
“I am excited and honored to return to my alma mater as a coach and to start this new chapter in my life,” Darwitz said. “I have great passion for the game of hockey and look forward to working alongside Brad as he taught me so much as a player. I share his goal of preserving the rich tradition of Gopher hockey and striving to bring additional championships to the U of M. I am fortunate and thankful that the University of Minnesota and USA Hockey are allowing me to grow in the sport both as a player and now as a coach.”