2002, 2006 & 2010 Olympian - United States
@NatalieDarwitz / STATUS: Retired / NBC 2014 Olympic Winter Games broadcaster
Natalie began skating at the age of five on her journey, she has always been the one to go the extra mile, put the extra work in and produce at the greatest times. Now at the age of 27, a veteran of eleven years on the US National Team, she has seen a lot from being the youngest at age 15 to now (2007-08) being named the Team Captain and providing guidance and leadership to propel the next generation of American female hockey players to the highest levels.
Over the past twelve years, Natalie has competed in three Olympics (including leading the ’02 Olympics in Goal Scoring and ’06 Games with the Game Winning Assist for the Bronze medal), three years of NCAA Hockey at her alma mater, Minnesota (where she won back-to-back national championships, scored the championship goal in her final game, won the Most Outstanding Player of the Frozen Four and named US Women’s Player of the Year) and competed in an additional four World Championships (Gold in 2005, 2008 & 2009) and today being the Assistant Coach of the Gophers.
At the ’08 Worlds, Natalie led the tournament in scoring and was named the Best Forward in the World by the International Ice Hockey Federation. Additionally, Natalie was awarded the Bob Johnson Award by USA Hockey as the best male or female player representing the United States in International play. At the ’09 Worlds, Natalie became the first US Captain to lead the nation to back-to-back World Championships. Natalie finished the tournament tied as the Top Scorer in the tournament and was selected to the International media All Star team.
In her career, Natalie has proven to be one thing and that is a winner at all levels and the challenge remaining for her on a personal side is to help the US win a Gold Medal at the Winter Olympics. She strives to be a leader and relishes the role to be a guiding hand and voice for the sport. At home in Minnesota, Natalie has coached at her high school with her father (Scott), has summer hockey camps that she directs in the region and is a vocal member of the community for the betterment of the sport in the state.
In August ‘08, Natalie was named Assistant Coach of her alma mater, the University of Minnesota and balanced her time as a member of the National Team based out of Blaine, MN (a suburb of Minneapolis/St Paul). At the conclusion of the 08-09 NCAA campaign (where the Gophers made it to the NCAA Frozen Four), Natalie returned as a full-time member of the US National Team and was strictly devoted to the 2010 Games. She was named Team Captain of the Olympic Team in January 2010.
Following the 2010 Olympic Games, Natalie rejoined the University of Minnesota as an assistant coach. During the 2010-11 season, the Gophers went 26-10-2 and was a finalist in the WCHA Championship game and reached the NCAA tournament. Part of her job with UMN is coaching the forwards as well as recruit, scout, game-plan and video breakdown.
Natalie was injured at the 2010 Olympics and after undergoing wrist surgery in December of 2010, she has not regained strength enough to continue to play at the highest level for the US National Team program and has been forced to medical retire.
Natalie left the University of Minnesota to take the opportunity in 2011 to become a head coach at the high school level (Lakeville South) in the Minneapolis/St Paul area giving back to where it all began for her own career.
Since 2006, Natalie has held her own hockey school in Eagan, MN for boys and girls in the Twin Cities, 14 & under and 9 & under which takes place in June & July every year. www.DarwitzHockey.com . Natalie also operates skills clinics throughout the summer time in the Minneapolis/St Paul region.
In the Fall of 2013, NBC asked Natalie to try out to become a broadcaster at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. After auditioning, NBC named her as a part of the broadcasting team working on the pre-Olympic Tour on NBC Sports Network and subsequently on their broadcasts live from Sochi.
In her free time, Natalie loves to be outdoors boating on the lakes in her native Minnesota, but also likes to go surfing in Southern California and Mexico with her husband (Chris) whom she married in August of 2013. Natalie and Chris had been dating since 2006.
She is the youngest of three kids (Nikki & Ryan) and spends a lot of time with her biggest fans, her parents Scott & Nancy. She has had a corporate partnership with Easton Hockey since 2005 and became an Advocare distributor in the Minneapolis/St Paul region in 2013.