Koelzer Spotlighted as Ice Hockey “Pioneer”

By Caitlin Burns | March 1, 2021


Kelsey Koelzer has made history as the first Black female ice hockey coach in NCAA history. National and regional media outlets have heralded her appointment at Arcadia University to lead the upcoming women’s ice hockey program, as Koelzer has been featured by the NHL, NBC Sports, 6ABC, and now CBS3 News for shattering the glass ceiling in collegiate ice hockey. 

“There’s a lot of amazing opportunities that hockey can open the doors to,” said Koelzer in an interview with reporter Dan Koob. “Every single day I wake up and there’s this moment of shock—it’s 2019 [when hired], how was I the first?”

Koelzer was a three-time, First-team All-Ivy League honoree at Princeton University, including being named the Tigers’ first First-team All-American. She was named Ivy League Player of the Year in 2016—a season that culminated in an Ivy League Championship and a trip to the NCAA national quarterfinals. In 2016, the Metropolitan Riveters made Koelzer the first-overall pick in the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) Draft, making Koelzer the first African American to be the top selection in the highest level of American professional hockey. During the 2018 season, Koelzer led the Riveters to the NWHL Isobel Cup Championship and was named Co-MVP of the 2018 NWHL All-Star game. 

Koelzer’s high school coach Mary Gibson Merenich was interviewed for the segment as well, and referred to her as the inspiration for tomorrow’s female players.

“There’s going to be little girls who look like her and they’re going to say ‘She looks like me,’ and they’re going to connect,” said Gibson Merenich. “I have the joy of saying that I coached a pioneer.”

The women’s ice hockey team will have its debut season in the 2021-22 academic year.