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Welcome Katie Zimmerman! Get to know the new head coach of the Western New England University women's ice hockey program

Last week, Western New England University announced the addition of a women’s ice hockey program, which will begin competing in the 2020-21 season. Along with this news, the department announced that Katie Zimmerman has been selected to serve as the program’s first head coach.

“I am thrilled that Katie has agreed to join our team. She has clearly demonstrated that she is in tune with the mission of our department and University. Yet more importantly, she has articulated how the program she will develop fits perfectly with our core values. Her level of organization and infectious positivity has already impressed in just a few short days on the job. Katie is a rising star and Golden Bear women’s ice hockey is in good hands.” - Director of Athletics Matt LaBranche

Zimmerman comes to Western New England following five seasons as an assistant coach at Amherst College, where she helped lead the Mammoths to a record of 82-34-18 (.679). The 2015-16 Amherst squad enjoyed its most successful regular season in program history, going 20-1-3 en route to an appearance in the NCAA Division III Tournament quarterfinals.

Prior to her time in Amherst, Zimmerman broke into the coaching profession as an assistant at SUNY Cortland in 2013-14. She has gained additional coaching experience with USA Hockey and at various camps and clinics across the country.

Zimmerman, a 2013 graduate of Hamilton College, was a standout performer during her four-year career with the Continentals. The Plymouth, Michigan native was a two-time All-NESCAC selection, leading the conference in goals in both her junior and senior seasons. Zimmerman also earned D3Hockey.com All-East Region accolades at the conclusion of her final collegiate campaign.

After earning her undergraduate degree in Communications from Hamilton, Zimmerman went on to receive a master's degree in Coaching Education from Ohio University in 2016.

Get to know Katie Zimmerman with our Q & A below!

Q: What sports did you play growing up?

A: I was fortunate to have been able to play a wide variety of sports when I was young. Along with hockey I also played soccer, softball, did martial arts, and I was a huge fan of "extreme sports" like snowboarding and skateboarding! Sports have always been a big part of my life.

Q: What are some of your hobbies and interests outside of hockey?

A: Outside of the sport, I love being outdoors! I enjoy bicycling, roller blading, fishing, hiking, and basically all other sports. I also love board games! As a fun fact, I love music and have been known to dabble on the piano and guitar. In regards to the sport of hockey, I'm a big follower of the NHL and a passionate fan of the Detroit Red Wings!

Q: When did you realize you wanted to get into coaching?

A: I realized I wanted to be a hockey coach from a very young age. In fact, I recently stumbled across an old "player profile" of mine from when I played 12-and-under hockey, and in response to the question, "what do you want to be when you grow up?" I wrote, "a teacher and a hockey coach." Little did I know, the only subject I would want to teach was hockey! My philosophy is that coaches are educators first and foremost. I am extremely grateful to be in this profession, because I truly love what I do!

Q: What specifically interested you in the Western New England job?

A: When I saw that Western New England University was starting a women's ice hockey program, I could not have been more excited. WNE is a distinguished university with a great reputation for athletics, and I knew I wanted to be a part of the Golden Bear family. I am so grateful to be in this position, and I can't wait to build a women's hockey team that shares my love for the game.

Q: What are your thoughts on the opportunity to build a program from scratch?

A: Building a brand new women's ice hockey program is a very exciting and unique opportunity. Ice hockey has grown so rapidly on the girls' side in recent years, and there are now so many talented female hockey players who aim to play at the NCAA level. I am humbled to be in the position to help grow the sport, and I am committed to building a competitive, gritty team from the very start.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish during the 2019-20 school year, before the team begins competing the following season?

A: In this upcoming year, my mission is to recruit highly motivated, talented, and hard-working individuals who will be the foundation of women's ice hockey at Western New England. I will strive to recruit well-rounded hockey players with good speed, strength, skill, and hockey sense. It is extremely important to me to build a positive team culture, so my goal is to recruit high character individuals who will work hard to be good teammates, friends, and people.

Q: What are your goals for this program?

A: My goal is to build a women's ice hockey team comprised of individuals who are hungry for a positive and meaningful college experience, and who will do whatever it takes to grow as athletes and as people. With so many talented and hard-working student-athletes out there, I aim to recruit the players who will set the tone for WNE women's ice hockey both on and off the ice. The goal is to be a tough, disciplined, process-oriented team that works hard to get better every day, and with that mindset we will be a very difficult team to play against.

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