Natalie Darwitz on Breakaway to Dream Career

Coaching hockey and teaching new goal for three-time Olympic medalist and World & NCAA Champion hockey player

Sara Woodward, an Exercise and Sport Science instructor at DCTC, had no idea one of the greatest stars in the history of United States amateur ice hockey was in her classroom until she spotted an article about Natalie Darwitz in the Star Tribune.

“I couldn’t believe it was her,” Woodward said. “Natalie is so low key and down to earth. She’s also an excellent student.”

Natalie Darwitz, 28, of Eagan, Minn., was five years old when she laced on her first pair of hockey skates. She grew up playing hockey with boys, which made her stronger, tougher, faster and smarter on the ice.

“You have to work harder when you compete with boys,” Darwitz said. “I never thought of myself as a girl playing hockey. I was a hockey player.”

In fact, Darwitz is the quintessential hockey player with an astounding list of accomplishments. She played three years for the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers, winning back-to-back NCAA national titles. She played for more than a decade with the U.S. National Team, one of the elite forces in international competition, becoming team captain at the start of the 2007–2008 season. She was still in Eagan High School when she competed at the 2002 Winter Olympics as a forward on the U.S. National Team, which took home the silver medal. Darwitz competed at two more Winter Olympics, winning another silver as well as a bronze medal.

Highlights from her amazing career:

  • Silver Medalist at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada
  • Bronze Medalist at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy
  • Silver Medalist at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, USA
  • Gold Medalist at the 2009 World Championships in Hämeenlinna, Finland
  • Gold Medalist at the 2008  World Championships in Harbin, China
  • Gold Medalist at the 2005 World Championships in Linkoping, Sweden
  • Silver Medalist at the 2007 World Championships in Winnipeg, Canada
  • Silver Medalist at the 2004 World Championships in Halifax, Canada
  • Silver Medalist at the 2001 World Championships in Minneapolis, USA
  • Silver Medalist at the 2000 World Championships in Mississauga, Canada
  • Silver Medalist at the 1999 World Championships in Espoo, Finland

“Playing hockey has given me the chance to travel the world,” said Darwitz, who has seen the sights in countries such as Italy, Germany, Sweden, Finland, China and more. “I’ve had a lot of cool experiences that wouldn’t have happened without hockey.”

Natalie Darwitz | USA HockeyDarwitz was just named head coach of the Lakeville South High School girl’s hockey team. She served previously as assistant coach for the women’s hockey team at the U of M, her alma mater—she graduated from the U in 2007 with a Bachelor of Science in business with an emphasis in sport management.

“My goal is to coach hockey and teach at the same school,” said Darwitz, who is pursuing physical education teaching licensure at Concordia University-Saint Paul. “I’m excited about the opportunity to gain experience as a head coach.”

Her coaching philosophy is direct and refreshing. “I coach hockey players—some of them just happen to be girls,” she said. “When I’m coaching youth hockey, I put the boys and girls together and they can’t tell the difference. They are just playing hockey.”

Darwitz is taking three classes at DCTC, two this fall—Applied Exercise Physiology and Child and Adolescent Psychology (the latter all online)—and Applied Biomechanics and Movement Anatomy in spring 2012. All three classes will transfer to Concordia.

“I am thoroughly enjoying my classes at DCTC,” Darwitz said. “It’s been a great experience.”

Darwitz chose DCTC for four reasons:

  1. She lives in Apple Valley and her commute is a straight shot east on County Road 42
  2. She likes the low cost of tuition
  3. She likes the convenience of an uncomplicated, student-friendly campus
  4. She likes how her classes fit into her hectic schedule
Natalie Darwitz | USA Hockey
More amazing facts about Natalie Darwitz
Courtesy of her Wikipedia page
  • 2008 Best Forward/All-Tournament Team World Championships—Awarded by International Ice Hockey Federation
  • 2008 Bob Johnson Award—Best International Player of the Year (male or female)—Awarded by USA Hockey
  • 2007 World Championships—Used pink hockey stick to promote breast cancer awareness
  • 2006-07 League MVP—Selected by the Western Women’s Hockey League
  • 2006-07 Western Women’s Hockey League Tournament All-Star Team
  • 2005 Bob Allen Women’s Player of the Year Award—Awarded by USA Hockey
  • 2005 NCAA Frozen Four Most Outstanding Player
  • 2002 Winter Olympics All-Tournament Team—Voted on by the International Ice Hockey Federation
  • WCHA Team of the Decade—2000s
  • Three-time All-American at University of Minnesota (Did not play senior year; preparing for 2010 Winter Olympics)
  • Three-time finalist for Patty Kazmaier Award (Ice hockey’s equivalent to football’s Heisman Trophy)
  • Second all-time in NCAA in single-season points and assists
  • Third all-time in NCAA in scoring (two players ahead of Darwitz played four years)
  • All-time leading scorer at the U of M
  • 1996–2000 Eagan High School career: In 102 games played, Darwitz scored 312 goals with 175 assists for 487 points
For more information about the Exercise and Sport Science program, contact:
  • Sara Woodward
    Exercise and Sport Science Instructor
For more information about General Education at DCTC, contact:

Natalie Darwitz | USA Hockey

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