Lopes’ coaches, players building a positive influence
By: Taylor Browne/GCU Staff
It’s all about the bigger picture.
The Grand Canyon University Women’s Ice Hockey team has been an active reason why Arizona ice hockey is expanding.
Lopes’ Head Coach Natalie Rossi, assistant coaches Erin Cain, KC McGinley and players Tuesday Chavez, Megan Brodfuehrer, Tara Wasser and Kylie Kramer are building girls’ hockey – starting with the Kachinas.
“I grew up playing ice hockey in Arizona and there was nothing like the Kachinas organization for girls then,” said Kramer. “The foundation that has been made for girls hockey in Arizona has given girls the opportunity to stay here and grow up to play elite college hockey.”
Kachinas is the only girls youth association in Arizona. Kachinas is a Tier 2, nationally bound association with girls ice hockey teams at the U8, U10, U12, U14, U16 and U19 levels. They’re also the only hockey association that is backed by the Arizona Coyotes.
“We are establishing that Arizona is a hockey community,” said Rossi. “We are very proud of our culture.”
Rossi is the U16 Co-Head Coach, Co-Hockey Director and in charge of coaching development in the southwest league.
“Being involved with the Kachinas gets our name out there for the younger players to know who we are, learn more about our culture and get to know our players,” said Rossi. “It builds a fan base and future Lopes.”
In fact, you may have seen the Kachinas on the ice with the Lopes. The Lopes have Kachinas Night where the players get free admission to the game, and skate on the ice alongside the Lopes.
“It reminds me the joy that hockey brings the younger ones while they are learning to play the sport,” said Rossi. “I love being able to teach them new things and be a positive female role model to the players.”
Blue Line Buddies is Rossi’s favorite event, 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.”
Now that the program is here, it is not just the young girls that are ready to pay it forward, but the Lopes.
“The Kachinas organization was created and is coached by numerous extraordinary people,” said Kramer. “It is very fulfilling to help out and to see young women succeeding in a growing girl’s hockey movement.”