By: Taylor Browne/GCU Staff
Success doesn’t limit itself to only winning.
Success to the Grand Canyon University Women’s Ice Hockey team was defined by progress and grit through the 2018-19 season. That success was rewarded with Lopes’ Head Coach Natalie Rossi being named the Western Women’s Collegiate Hockey League Coach of the Year.
With an overall record of 4-15, Rossi’s success wasn’t defined by the number of wins, but how she leads her team. Success means putting yourself and your skills out in front, and to always give your best in healthy competition.
This is exactly what Rossi was recognized for.
“It is exciting because it is voted by other coaches in the league,” said Rossi. “It is an honor to have the respect and acknowledgment from them.”
The differences between a good coach and a great one may be subtle, however.
“She is a very ‘one step at a time’ kind of coach,” said Lopes’ freshman defenseman Megan Brodfuehrer. “In one of our games when we were behind, she came in and said, ‘One shift at a time, one game at a time, and one goal at a time,’ and we pulled out a win. That shows a lot about how she coaches.”
In fact, Rossi doesn’t only preach on progress, but understanding.
“My coaching style is understanding each player,” said Rossi. “I want to understand their needs, and then apply that to communicate with them in order to help them improve.”
This 2018-19 season, the Lopes accumulated 26 goals, 10 more than last season. Sophomore forward Tuesday Chavez has seen Rossi build the program over the past couple of years.
“The team and I are thankful that Coach Rossi was awarded Coach of the Year because she deserves the acknowledgement,” said Chavez. “Due to all the hard work that she has put in the past two years to build our program, despite our losses, the team has become stronger together because of Rossi’s relentless determination to make us a great team. Personally, she is the best coach that I have played under. I am extremely thankful to be coached by her, and I can’t wait to continue playing for her for the next two years.”
Despite the Lopes’ overall record, Rossi has a heart for the game and an even bigger heart for her players. At the end of the day, a winning record doesn’t define success, but the impact Rossi has on her team. It is the support that she gets on and off the ice from her staff and team that drives her motivation.
“I strive to be the type of coach who inspires players to be the best players and people they can be,” said Rossi. “I strive to understand each player and their needs, and be the type of person who is there for them – on and off the ice. I want to ensure that the players know they are more than a number, but people I respect. I aspire to be the type of coach that one day they would want to be if they become a coach as well.”