USA Hockey
USA Hockey


Natalie Darwitz

Captain Team USA  since 2007 at age 24 and Assistant Coach with University of Minnesota. At the 2008 World Championship, Darwitz led the tournament in scoring and was named the Best Forward by the International Ice Hockey Federation.

Q&A with Heather McIntyre
January 2010

Q: After playing hockey many athletes jump to coaching. Why did you choose that route?

A: I just really enjoy the sport of hockey and I want to be a part of it because it is one of my passions in life. I enjoy working with other athletes that are passionate about the game as well. I look forward to going to the rink every day whether it is as a player or a coach.

Q: Becoming a captain of Team USA at such a young age, coupled with your success at the University of Minnesota, did coaching come naturally to you?

A: I like to lead by example so the transition to coaching was a bit different because I had to communicate my ideas more versus doing it myself as a player. It came natural in the sense that again, I am passionate about the game.

Q: What was your coaching experience like?

A: I have been coaching for the last three years, the first two with my dad at my old high school and this past year at the University of Minnesota and I have had nothing but great experiences.

Q: What do you take from that experience when it comes to playing for Team USA again?

A: As a coach you see the game through a different perspective so that has helped as well as being on the opposite side of the coaching spectrum you see why the coaches make the decisions they do and obviously watching video has helped me tremendously.

Q: Why did you leave your coaching position after one season?

A: The University of Minnesota knew that my top priority was to compete in the 2010 Olympics so it was agreed upon that I would take a leave of absence for this year and would return in the fall of 2010.

Q: Describe your leadership style.

A: I am a “lead by example” kind of player. I want my play to speak for itself and to show my teammates what to do. Obviously as a coach, I need to communicate more as a leader. Combining these two will hopefully give me good leadership with my teammates on Team USA.

Q: What are you like off the ice?

A: I think that I am a little bit more intense when I am on the ice because I take my role seriously and want to do whatever I can to help the team. Off the ice, I like to be a little bit more laid back and relax with my friends.

Q: How do you focus before a game? Any superstitions or traditions?

A: I am pretty laid back before games. Before warm-ups, I play catch with the football with a teammate. No real superstitions.

Q: Is there anything you do as captain before games or in between periods?

A: I don't change who I am just because I am a leader, but if something needs to be said or done, I have no problem doing it.

Q: Talk about the 2009 world championship which your team won. What do you hope to carry from that into the 2010 Games?

A: Going into the 2010 Games, we are definitely looking to build upon our success in the past few years. With such a young team, we were able to build a lot of confidence from the 2009 Worlds and that is going to be crucial going forward. We learned what it takes to win the big games and going forward we need to bring that same energy and enthusiasm to the games. We don't want to change too much just because it is a bigger stage. We will continue to do what has brought us this far.

Q: You’re one of six players with Olympic experience. Describe the mindset of such a new, young team as the Games approach.

A: I think there is a good balance between veteran leadership and young players that are experiencing everything for the first time. Our youth brings a certain excitement to the game that raises the energy level on and off the ice and has proved significant in the past few tournaments. Obviously, the six of us are there for help in whatever way we can by giving advice or letting kids know what to expect in certain situations, but at the same time we want them to experience everything in their own eyes and to take it all in.