USA Hockey Magazine

February 2019

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PHOTOS BY Credit Here W hile the American Collegiate Hockey Association provides an opportunity for women to keep playing after their youth hockey days are over, it is also giving a number of them the opportunity to enter the coaching ranks once they hang up their competitive skates. A q u i c k s c a n o f A C H A r o s t e r s i n t h e Women's divisions show a growing number of females, including many former players, who are making the move behind the bench. There are currently 10 head coaches who are female and 30 more who are assistants working in ACHA Div. I programs. Add to the list the 14 head coaches working in Div. II programs and another 25 assistants and you have more aspiring female coaches getting an opportunity to hone their craft. "The coaching talent pool is benefiting from those with ACHA experience," said Arizona State University head coach Lindsey Ellis. "While many who played in the ACHA may not have had as many resources as those who played in the NCAA, the hockey knowledge and drive to succeed is the same for both levels of athletes. This translates into an influx of qualified coaching candidates from the ACHA." The largest benefit may be felt at the youth level. Whether a professional or a volunteer, having more female coaches with extended playing experience benefits both girls and boys. "It gives youth players female role models who have walked the path they hope to take," said NCAA Div. III Salve Regina coach Beth McCann, who founded and led the Rhode Island ACHA program for 15 years. "We see a lot of [ACHA] alumni giving back to the game." Former ACHA players not only have the skills to teach the fundamentals on the ice, they have the experience to help families navigate the college recruiting world. Figuring out what opportunity best fits their dreams and skill level—in the NCAA or ACHA—is a daunting challenge for any player and parent. An alum's knowledge of a lesser-known option can prove helpful for players unable to land a coveted athletic scholarship or consider- ing a school for academic reasons or its location that does not have an NCAA program. Getting the word out is why many of the ACHA's top programs attend the same show- cases, such as USA Hockey Girls' Tier I and Tier II National Championships, as their NCAA counterparts. "I am always looking for talent and oppor- tunities to share what the ACHA has to offer, whether it be for my team or another prospective team within the ACHA. It's always about the young woman and find- ing the very best fit for that individual," sa i d L i n d e nw o o d - B e l l e v i l l e ( I l l . ) c o a c h Katherine Hannah. Experience recruiting for the ACHA trans- lates directly into a similar role in the NCAA, especially a Div. III program, which also does not offer athletic scholarships. The ACHA is also doing its part to develop future coaches and players as many of its coaches volunteer at USA Hockey 's player development camps. "If youth hockey programs aren't piquing the interest of girls to start playing the sport, then the growth of the sport stops," said ACHA women's Div. I commissioner Molly Mahoney. "It's great when girls can see female coaches on the ice. They start to build a relationship that will hopefully keep the player in the game for a long time." P Joe Paisley is a freelance writer from Colorado Springs, Colo. 14 // FEBRUARY 2019 USAHOCKEYMAGAZINE.COM OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS By Joe Paisley More Female Coaches Getting An Opportunity To Develop In The ACHA PHOTOS COURTESY OF American Collegiate Hockey Association Natalie Rossi of Grand Canyon University (above) and the staff of Arizona State University (below) are making the most of their opportunities to coach in the ACHA.

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