Lopes continue to be at ACHA forefront of molding players into leaders off the Ice
By: Taylor Browne/GCU Staff
Yet another reason why the Grand Canyon University Women’s Ice Hockey team stands out amongst the rest.
After Lopes’ Head Coach Natalie Rossi was named the 2019 Western Women’s Collegiate Hockey League (WWCHL) Coach of the Year, the Lopes were recognized with the Community Service Award in the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) Women’s Division I for their efforts in the community for a second consecutive year.
“It is such an honor to have this award for the team,” said Rossi. “The girls work really hard making the community and the world a better place. They definitely deserve it.”
As the program continues to build on the ice, GCU was chosen for their continuous community work including Feed My Starving Children, the Autism Walk, Blue Line Buddies and GCU’s Canyon Kids amongst others.
Rossi highlighted her favorite event, Blue Line Buddies, which the Lopes introduced for the first time this past season.
“Young girls are able to watch our warm-ups from the bench, go on the ice, pick up pucks after warm-ups and get to stand on the blue line with the starting lineup,” said Rossi. “It’s cool to see those young girls having the role models that they didn’t have two years ago when our program wasn’t here.”
The Lopes continue to positively affect girls hockey in Arizona by continuing to expand their program on the ice and into the community.
“We are establishing that Arizona is a hockey community,” said Rossi. “We are very proud of our culture.”
Many of the events the team did throughout their season were put together by the players. For Rossi and the players, seeing their efforts pay off another year inspires for the upcoming 2019-2020 season.
“We’re still building our culture, and we’ll continue to do that,” said Rossi. “We’re looking for our continued success off the ice, and bringing more of that success on the ice.”