A coaching carousel in college women’s hockey has put U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame member Natalie Darwitz back at the University of Minnesota.
Darwitz, who coached Hamline University to the NCAA Division III Frozen Four twice during her six years at the school, has rejoined the Gophers as an assistant coach. She helped Minnesota win back-to-back national championships in 2004 and 2005 and is third on the program’s career scoring list. The three time Olympic medalist and three-time world championships gold medalist also served as an assistant coach at Minnesota in the 2008-09 and 2010-11 seasons.
She was one of the first stars of Minnesota high school girls hockey, scoring 487 points in 102 games over four seasons and helping Eagan reach the state tournament in 1997, 1998 and 2000. Eagan was state runner-up in 1997.
Before going to Hamline, Darwitz was head coach at Lakeville South High School for four years, leading the Cougars to the state tournament in 2015.
Darwitz’s assistant coach at Hamline, Jake Bobrowski, also will be an assistant at Minnesota under head coach Brad Frost. They will seek to put the Gophers back at the top of Division I after the Gophers failed to make the NCAA playoffs in 2020-21 for the first time in Frost’s 14 years as head coach.
“I am excited and honored to be returning to my alma mater as the women’s assistant hockey coach,” said Darwitz. “I am passionate about the game of hockey and the success of the Gopher women’s program. I am looking forward to coaching alongside Brad and Jake. We share the common goal of preserving the rich tradition of Gopher hockey and bring additional championships to the U of M. I am excited and grateful for the University of Minnesota for this opportunity.”
The openings on the University of Minnesota staff were created when former Gophers assistants Joel Johnson and Bethany Brausen left for the University of St. Thomas, which will play its first season in Division I in 2021-22 – and will join Minnesota in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. Johnson will be the Tommies’ head coach and also has been chosen to coach the 2022 U.S. Olympic women’s team.
Hamline University has not yet announced replacements for Darwitz and Bobrowski.
Starting Monday: fall sports
Practices for most fall sports begin Monday, Aug. 16. For now, the South Suburban Conference and Minnesota State High School League are planning a full season similar to what took place before the pandemic hit. That includes multi-school invitationals for sports such as volleyball and cross country, and state tournaments for all sports are scheduled.
In fact, some state tournaments will be expanded following Minnesota State High School League approval of more enrollment classes for soccer, cross country and volleyball. Soccer and cross country will have three classes effective this fall and volleyball will expand to four. State tournament schedules for those sports have not been finalized, although the MSHSL board of directors decided earlier this month to continue holding soccer semifinals and finals at U.S. Bank Stadium. Third-place soccer games, which in the past had been held at U.S. Bank Stadium, will move to other sites.
The expanded cross country meet is expected to remain at St. Olaf College and the volleyball tournament is scheduled to return to Xcel Energy Center.
Practices for adapted soccer will begin Aug. 30, with the state tournament scheduled for Nov. 19-20. If the adapted soccer tournament happens, it would be the first state tourney in any adapted sport other than bowling in two years.
MGA tourney at Brackett’s Crossing
The Minnesota Golf Association Four-Ball Championship will be Monday, Aug. 16, through Wednesday, Aug. 18, at Brackett’s Crossing Country Club in Lakeville.
There are 134 two-player teams registered. Teams will play their first rounds Monday or Tuesday, with the top team from each day advancing to the final round Wednesday.
Cousins David and Michael Christensen are defending champions and will play their first round at 12:40 p.m. Tuesday. Farmington native Sammy Schmitz teamed with Jesse Polk to finish second at last year’s tournament (Schmitz and Polk won the MGA Four-Ball in 2014). Schmitz and Polk start their first round at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Former Lakeville South High School player Noah Rasinski played on the third-place team last year. Rasinski and his teammate, Taylor Zack, start their first round at 9:50 a.m. Monday.
Spectator admission is free. For more information about the tournament, visit www.mngolf.org.