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New coach has big hopes for Big Green women’s hockey

  • Liz Keady Norton STEVE BABINEAU—...

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 6/2/2021 10:46:00 PM
Modified: 6/2/2021 10:45:57 PM

HANOVER — New Dartmouth College women’s hockey coach Liz Keady Norton is quite familiar with the Ivy League and with Eastern College Athletic Conference hockey.

Norton joins the Big Green after four years with Boston University, two as assistant coach and two as associate head coach. She coached at Harvard for the two preceding years and for one year at Union College before that. She played in the league as well, scoring 38 career goals for Princeton from 2004-08.

Norton thinks the familiarity with the conference will serve her well as she takes charge of Dartmouth’s program.

“It’s special to me to be back in the Ivy League and the ECAC, which I think is an incredible honor,” Norton said. “I’m really excited. Dartmouth has such history and tradition, and I’m excited to see where the program can go.”

Norton, 34, is stepping into her first collegiate head coaching position. That’s a big deal for her. She also said she was impressed by many aspects of Dartmouth during the interview process, including the welcoming community and the strong alumni base.

Dartmouth announced the hire on May 18, and Norton officially started on Tuesday.

One of Norton’s short-term goals is establishing a culture and process she believes will lead the program to success.

She tries to communicate clearly and directly with her players, and she aims to coach with energy and passion. She said she wants to get the most out of each player.

“There might be a wide range of ability and a wide range of what a player’s end goals are,” Norton said. “Some might want to play on national teams and those might be their aspirations, while others want to be the best version of themselves for Dartmouth and the best college hockey player possible. And in my opinion, it’s my job to get the most out of all of them so that each of them is the best version of themselves for our team.”

Just like the hiring of Adrienne Shibles to coach Dartmouth women’s basketball, a group of players was involved in the interview process for Norton. Junior Gabby Billing and sophomore Currie Putrah, two athletes from that group, liked Norton’s attitude and the promise of being challenged.

They said the players were all excited when they learned Norton got the job. In her initial message to the team, Norton emphasized two things: her belief in them and commitment to push them, and a promise to build a connection with each of them on a personal level.

After a year with no games and an interim head coach (Morgan Illikainen, whom Billing praised for her efforts to keep the team unified), the athletes are also excited for the program to gain some stability.

“I think Liz can bring (that) for us, and I think she’s going to create a great environment for us that people will want to come to the rink and play for her,” Billing said. “It feels really good to hopefully have that constant coming in and someone who can help our program get back to where we know it can be.”

Dartmouth hasn’t posted a winning record since 2013.

The Big Green hasn’t made an NCAA tournament since 2011 and hasn’t won a conference title since 2009.

Norton will attempt to return the program to its early-2000s success, when Dartmouth made four Frozen Fours in five years from 2001-05. She said it will require consistency and lots of small changes over time for the program to get back there.

“I think it’ll take commitment from both the players and the coaches to be all in,” Norton said. “And I think if we are committed and we are consistent, I think that will come a lot sooner than people think. And without it, it will probably be a struggle.

“I’m hopeful for the group that we have. I’m hopeful for my staff, and I’m excited about the challenge that lies ahead.”

Seth Tow can be reached at stow@vnews.com.




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