Kelsey Koelzer has been a pioneer before.
An African-American woman in ice hockey, she cut her teeth and several other body parts in boys leagues, then became a first-team all-American at Princeton and the National Women’s Hockey League’s top overall draft choice.
Now Koelzer, 24, will break more ground as the first coach of Arcadia University’s new women’s ice-hockey program, which along with a men’s team will begin play in the 2021-22 season.
“To be able to provide more girls an opportunity to play at the college level should be amazing,” Koelzer said. “Hockey helped me get a degree from the best school in the country.”
She’ll start recruiting in October and Arcadia hopes her stature in a sport she discovered at age 4 will propel its new program, which, along with a men’s team, launches in the 2021-22 season. Vince Pietrangelo, the lead assistant at SUNY-Canton, will coach the men.
A Horsham Pennsylvania native, Koelzer was a three-time all-Ivy performer as a Princeton defender and a member of the USA Select Under-22 team. After graduating in 2017, she was drafted into the NWHL and was named its all-star game’s MVP. She’s also a member of the NHL-NHLPA Female Hockey Advisory Committee, a group aiming to increase women’s participation in the sport.
“I’ve mentioned her to some people and they’re impressed. They all say, `Whoa, she’s your coach?’” said Brian Granata, Arcadia’s athletic director. “Her passion is impressive. She’s extremely humble, very mature.”