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Rossi earns prestigious NHL honor

June 19, 2020

GCU Women’s Hockey Head Coach part of inaugural NHL Female Coaches Development Program

By: Garrett Osterode/GCU Staff

For a lot of collegiate coaches, opportunities to learn from coaches at the highest level do not happen very often.

For Grand Canyon University Women’s Ice Hockey Head Coach Natalie Rossi, one of those opportunities just became reality. 

This year, the Arizona Coyotes, the valley’s National Hockey League team, was granted the opportunity to choose two female coaches from the state of Arizona to take part in the inaugural NHL Coaches Association Female Coaches Development Program. Being selected automatically waived the normal entry fee to the clinic.

Their selection? None other than Rossi (on right in above picture), the fourth-year Lopes’ coach whose work with both GCU and the Arizona Kachinas Hockey Association put her on the Coyotes’ radar – along with their other selection, Rossi’s fellow Kachinas’ coach, Jess Conlon.

The program brought together 50 female coaches from across North America for a video clinic last week. Topics ranged from skills development, leadership strategies, communication tactics, networking and career advancement opportunities. From there, the clinic will evolve into a yearlong mentorship from members of the NHL Coaching Association. 

“Part of being a coach is being able to continually learn,” said Rossi. “An opportunity to make me better is an opportunity to make my players better.”

Rossi received this honor due to her extensive reach in women’s hockey in the state of Arizona.  Recently, the Lopes’ coach was named the Director of Coaching Development for the Arizona Kachinas, a youth girls’ hockey program sponsored by the Coyotes. Along with the Kachinas’ gig, Rossi also represents the Arizona Amateur Hockey Association as the women’s hockey ambassador, encouraging girls from around the state to put on a pair of skates for the first time. 

“I’m in a unique position to encourage girls to play hockey,” said Rossi. “Seeing 40+ other female coaches during this clinic has been absolutely incredible and extremely encouraging for the future of our sport.”

Along with the mentorship and networking opportunities, Rossi will be granted the ability to shadow coaches on the professional level during the 2020-21 season. 

“A lot of these coaches are people I have idolized for years,” said Rossi. “Having the opportunity to learn from them is something I could’ve never dreamed of.”

That opportunity also gives Rossi the ability to impart skills and drills that are taught on the NHL level to her 2020-21 Lopes at AZ Ice Arcadia.

“I’m so excited to be able to bring this new information to our girls,” said Rossi. “It’s not just about the on-ice teachings. The lessons in building team culture are essential as well.”

The main goal of the NHLCA Female Coaches Development Program is to continue to develop and expand the game of hockey, and that is exactly where Rossi’s mindset has always been.

“I’m only in my fourth year of coaching, so I obviously don’t know everything about growing the game,” said Rossi. “However, I am learning every day to make our team better and to build our community.”

Interested in joining GCU Women’s Ice Hockey? Contact Lopes’ Head Coach Natalie Rossi today!