Kelsey Koelzer is now the head women’s hockey coach at Arcadia University, making the 25-year-old the first Black hockey coach in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) division, according to 6 ABC Action News.
In 2019, Koelzer was hired at Arcadia University to lead the recruitment and program development for Arcadia Knights women’s hockey team.
The newly-named head team leader said her motivation to be a coach comes from never seeing anyone like her in hockey as a child.
“Initially, my mom did not want to let me play hockey because it was not something that girls did back in 1998/99,” she said.
The Horsham, Pennsylvania woman said, “As you’re growing through the sport, it becomes even more apparent how rare it was for girls to play hockey; I had to play in co-ed leagues from the time I started until I was 13 or 14.”
The young hockey player played the sport since she was four years old and played on all boys’ teams until she was a young teen.
Koelzer played for Princeton University and was the number one pick in the NWHL Draft, where she played three seasons.
Despite having faced gender and racial discrimination in the predominantly white and male-dominated sport, Koelzer prevailed.
In an interview with Black News Channel, she said, “The first obstacle I ever faced in hockey was being the girl instead of being the Black player. That’s something I faced right off the bat, whether it was parents, players, or coaches,”
“I did, at times, feel the kind of targeting that a lot of girls feel on the ice.”
The young player recounted being called the n-word across the ice in the past and how she reacted to it.
“The shock kind of hit me for a couple of seconds, and then kind of the rage took over, and I chased him off the ice, and I shoved him from behind and was pushing his back and stuff like that,” she said.
Koelzer expressed that she’s excited about her new endeavor in coaching a team and hopes to be an inspiration for minorities all over the nation.
“Hockey has been that staple number one activity my whole life. Getting the chance to transition to this side of the game is special for me,” she said.
“Having the chance to know I’m potentially making it easier for someone like me to have a chance down the line to do the same, I think that’s something that helps to motivate me and helps put things into perspective for me.”
Koelzer’s message to young girls and boys of color who may be watching and wondering, ‘why not me? ‘is, “If you have the love for the game, the skill, and put in the hard work, then you belong there and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”