Norwich has named Taylor Willard as the lead assistant coach for the women’s hockey team.
Willard replaces Mollie Fitzpatrick, who left to join the Boston University women’s coaching staff in June.
“I am beyond thrilled to have Taylor Willard join our staff,” Norwich head coach Sophie Leclerc said in a statement. “It was clear after getting to know Taylor through the hiring process that she has a deep passion for all aspects of the game, and will be an incredible addition to the Norwich community.
“The players and I are eager to learn from Taylor and her tremendous experiences as a player and coach at the Division I level.”
Willard comes to Norwich after serving the last two years as a volunteer assistant at Vermont, her alma mater.
A two-year captain, Willard played 145 games for Vermont, which is tied for the second-most in program history. Willard also ranks in the program’s top 10 for points (62, ninth), assists (41, tied for fourth), power-play goals (12, fourth) and most power-play goals in a single season (six, tied for fifth). Her point total is the most by a defenseman in program history.
“I am extremely honored to be given the opportunity to join such an established and successful program at Norwich University as an assistant coach,” Willard said. “I am thrilled at the opportunity to work for Sophie Leclerc. She is an amazing person and coach, and I’m excited to get to know and build relationships with our driven student-athletes. I cannot wait to experience and feel the support from the community, and become part of the Norwich family.
“I also want to thank the University of Vermont for everything they have given me over the years, and I hope that I can bring the knowledge I gained from both playing and coaching for that program to Norwich.”
Willard also won the 2018 Sarah Devens Award, which is presented annually to a player who “demonstrates leadership and commitment both on and off the ice.” The Devens Award is given as a joint honor between ECAC Hockey and Hockey East and aids a deserving student-athlete with a post-graduate scholarship of $10,000. Willard was the first Vermont player to win the prestigious award, and the first Hockey East player since 2006 to earn the honor.
After college, Willard spent the 2018-19 season playing professionally for the CWHL’s Montreal Canadiennes. She registered seven points (two goals, five assists) in 26 games as the Canadiennes went all the way to the Clarkson Cup.
Willard will begin her new role in early August, joining Leclerc and volunteer assistant coach Jon Guiffre.