HERSHEY, Pa. — Before Bob Hartley won a Stanley Cup in Colorado, he was hoisting the Calder Cup in Hershey. Little did he know that his Avalanche teams were impacting a future Bears coach and helping grow her passion for the game of hockey.
"I grew up in Colorado. So the Colorado Avalanche at that time were a pretty good hockey team. They were really fun to watch. So once I saw that 2001 Stanley Cup team, that's when I knew I was obsessed and I fell in love," recalled Emily Engel-Natzke.
Engle-Natzke has been the Video Coordinator and Associate Director of Operations for the Wisconsin Men's Hockey program for the past four years, but at a time when pro sports jobs are limited because of the pandemic, she heard about a video coach role with the Hershey Bears.
"Everyone that I had talked to said that Hershey was the best organization in the American Hockey League to play for, so I was obviously really excited at first. And then that excitement just grew the more people that I talked to," said Engel-Natzke.
And on one Friday afternoon, her whole life changed when she received the job offer.
"I was over the moon excited," said Engel-Natzke. "I immediately called my wife and called my mom and told them and we had a drink out on the patio just to celebrate as best as we could, given the time."
Coach Engel-Natzke is now the first female coach in the Washington Capitals organization and she knows what that image can do for young girls who are passionate about the sport of hockey.
"I think if you can see it, you can be it, whether that's working as a video coach, or hopefully we see a woman behind the bench of a men's professional team, too. So if you have a dream, there's a way to accomplish it," said Engel-Natzke.
The next step is to officially move to Hershey and get to work, that way, when the puck does drop, she and the Bears will be ready.
"Obviously, this has been a dream of mine to work in men's professional hockey. So it's there. It's about to start," said Engel-Natzke. "So I think it maybe a little bit of nervousness, but I think I would be more concerned if I wasn't nervous. That means that you care and you're excited, so I'm just excited to get out to Hershey and just get things started."