The Minnesota women’s hockey team has added assistant coaches Natalie Darwitz and Jake Bobrowski to the Gophers’ coaching staff.
“We are thrilled to have both Natalie and Jake as part of our coaching staff,” Minnesota head coach Brad Frost said in a statement. “They have great coaching track records separately, but have been very dynamic together and are proven winners. As we look at our needs as a program, they are exactly what we hoped for. The future of Gopher women’s hockey continues to be very bright.”
During their time at Hamline, where Darwitz was head coach and Bobrowski an assistant, the duo led the Pipers to the NCAA Division III Frozen Four in 2018 and NCAA Division III national runner-up in 2019.
In their first season at Hamline, the team posted a 9-13-3 record, the most wins by the program in nearly a decade. In the 2017-18 season, Hamline made the NCAA tournament for the first time in program history and finished third. That season, Darwitz was named both MIAC and USCHO Coach of the Year. The next season, Hamline posted a program record 23 wins and advanced all the way to the NCAA Division III national championship game — marking the first national title game appearance by a MIAC program.
In six seasons under Darwitz and Bobrowski, Hamline went 88-41-14 overall and 58-26-9 in the MIAC.
“I am excited and honored to be returning to my alma mater as the women’s assistant hockey coach,” said Darwitz. “I am passionate about the game of hockey and the success of the Gopher women’s program. I am looking forward to coaching alongside Brad and Jake. We share the common goal of preserving the rich tradition of Gopher Hockey and bring additional championships to the U of M. I am excited and grateful for the University of Minnesota for this opportunity.”
Darwitz began her coaching career in 2007-08 as an assistant on her father’s staff with Eagan (Minn.) High School’s girls hockey team. In 2008-09, she joined the Gophers staff as an assistant coach, before taking a year-long hiatus the following season to be Team USA’s captain for the 2010 Winter Olympics. After the Olympics, she returned to Minnesota’s bench for the 2010-11 season. Following the season, Darwitz was announced as the next head coach of Lakeville South High School’s girls hockey team.
“Natalie is one of the most recognizable names in all of hockey,” said Frost. “Whether it’s leading her Eagan High School team to state tournaments, winning back-to-back National Championships at the University of Minnesota, or setting the all time scoring record in a season with 114 points, the list goes on and on. She’s been a three-time Olympian for Team USA, captain of the Olympic Team, and has been inducted into multiple hall of fames, including the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame. Wherever she goes, success follows. Her coaching path is no different, most recently turning the Hamline program around and into one of the top Division III programs in the country.”
Bobrowski served as an assistant coach on Darwitz’s staff for the past six seasons. Prior to his time at Hamline, the St. Paul native was the head coach of Hill-Murray’s junior varsity girls hockey team and assistant coach of the Pioneers’ varsity team. During his seven seasons with Hill-Murray, the Pioneers appeared in four MSHSL Class AA state tournaments. The Pioneers won the state championship in 2014, their first in program history, and 2015 and were runners-up in 2013. Hill-Murray’s junior varsity girls hockey team won conference championships each year he was head coach.
His coaching experience also includes a strong background in youth hockey. In 2007-08, Bobrowski served as head coach of the U12 Western Wisconsin Stars girls youth program. The team finished as state runner-up that season. Bobrowski’s specialty at Hamline was recruitment. As head recruiter, he recruited seven All-Americans and the 2019 AHCA National Player of the Year.
“I am excited to begin a new journey with such a championship pedigree program here at the University of Minnesota,” said Bobrowski. “I am humbled by the opportunity to be part of a great staff, program, and institution. I look forward to contributing in any way possible and seeing what this talented group of young women can do. I want to thank all of my former players at Hamline University and Hill Murray High School, Coach Schafhauser, and especially my wife, Jennifer, and our kids for their support. If not for them, this would not have been possible. I also want to thank AD Mark Coyle, associate AD Tom McGinnis, Coach Frost, Jessica Scott, Tricia Budke and the entire search committee for this fantastic opportunity.”
“Jake has had great coaching success at many different levels,” added Frost. “Starting out at one of the powerhouse programs in Hill-Murray. He was instrumental in helping the Pioneers to four state tournament berths and two state championships. Moving up a level did not hinder him at all, helping turn the Piper program around and making it to two NCAA Frozen Fours. Jake is also a very talented recruiter. He develops great relationships with recruits and their families and has a keen eye for talent.”