Another Black woman has made history. This time, it’s in the ranks of ice hockey for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
Kelsey Koelzer, the head coach for the women’s ice hockey team at Arcadia University, is the first Black person to coach the sport in the division.
She started playing hockey at the age of four and she was often the only girl playing in a sport dominated by boys. She was told numerous times “girls don’t belong on the ice.”
As she got older, she started to experience racism in a sport starving for diversity. In high school, an opposing player used the N-word towards her. “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.
Although the memory stayed with her as she continued to succeed in the sport, she called it a teaching moment. After high school, Koelzer went on to play ice hockey for Princeton University, where she earned First-Team All-Ivy League honors three times. She was also the team’s first-ever All-American.
She was the number one draft pick in the National Women’s Hockey League. No Black player had ever been selected first overall in any professional North American hockey league before her. After understanding the economics of women’s professional hockey, she found a new opportunity at Arcadia.
She began coaching the Arcadia Knights in September 2019 where she started creating the entire women’s ice hockey program and recruiting the team at just 24 years old.