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Gophers women's hockey legend promoted to associate head coach

After successful head coaching stints at the high school and Division III college levels, Natalie Darwitz returned to her alma mater in 2021 as a key member of Brad Frost's coaching staff.

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Minnesota Gophers women's hockey head coach Brad Frost (left) and associate head coach Natalie Darwitz (right) worked the bench at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis during a game versus Minnesota State Mankato on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022.
Justin Wolford / Gopher Sports

MINNEAPOLIS — With her status as a legend of the Minnesota Gophers women’s hockey program already well established, and a bump in salary delivered over the summer, Natalie Darwitz’s title with her alma mater got a bump as well this week.

On Thursday, the school announced that Darwitz is now the team’s associate head coach, where she will continue to work with head coach Brad Frost.

“We are excited to move Natalie into this position,” said head coach Brad Frost in a statement released by the school. “She has had a tremendous impact on our program over many years and is very deserving of this promotion.”

In three full seasons behind the bench at Minnesota, Darwitz has helped guide the Gophers to a 58-15-5 record and two WCHA regular season titles in 2009 and 2022.

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Minnesota Gophers associate head coach Natalie Darwitz called out instructions to her players during a game at Minnesota State Mankato on Friday, October 14, 2022.
Tony Scott / Gopher Sports

Originally from Eagan, Minnesota, Darwitz was a prep star, then played three seasons in maroon and gold, winning NCAA titles in 2004 and 2005. In her final season of college hockey, she set a NCAA single season scoring record with 114 points and was named the Frozen Four’s Most Outstanding Player.

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On the Olympic stage, Darwitz won silver medals in 2002 and 2010 and a bronze in 2006, and won gold in three women’s world championships. She is a member of the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, the Minnesota Sports Hall of Fame, the Minnesota State High School League Hall of Fame and the 'M' Club Hall of Fame.

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As a head coach, she led Lakeville South High School to the Minnesota state tournament, then coached Hamline University’s women’s program to national prominence on the Division III level during her six seasons with the Pipers. As an assistant under Frost for the Gophers in two different stints, Darwitz, 39, has helped the team to WCHA titles in 2009 and 2022.

According to a U of M athletics official, Darwitz received a boost in salary and responsibility over the summer when former Gophers assistant coach Jake Bobrowski left the program to become the head coach at Elmira College in New York. The announcement of Darwitz’s new title this week is the other part of her promotion.

Jess Myers covers college hockey, as well as outdoors, general sports and travel, for The Rink Live and the Forum Communications family of publications. He came to FCC in 2018 after three decades of covering sports as a freelancer for a variety of publications, while working full time in politics and media relations. A native of Warroad, Minn. (the real Hockeytown USA), Myers has a degree in journalism/communications from the University of Minnesota Duluth. He lives in the Twin Cities. Contact Jess via email at jrmyers@forumcomm.com, or find him on Twitter via @JessRMyers. English speaker.
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