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How Success Happened for Emily Engel-Natzke, Washington Capitals Video Coordinator

Engel-Natzke became the National Hockey League's first full-time female coach this summer, joining the Washington Capitals as video coordinator.

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This summer, Emily Engel-Natzke became the first full-time female coach in NHL history when the Washington Capitals hired her as video coordinator.

Washington Capitals

"It's hard to describe the feeling of being the first," says Engel-Natzke. "I think first and foremost, I'm honored, proud and grateful for the opportunity and for everyone who helped me get to this point."

While Engel-Natzke cannot pinpoint a specific reason as to why she became the first, she believes her work ethic definitely played a role.

"I've always tried to work my hardest and do my best at whatever I'm doing, so I think that's a big part of it," says Engel-Natzke.

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She also credits the people around her who have been with her for every step of the journey.

"The saying 'it takes a village' is certainly true in this case, and I don't think I would be here without the love and support from those who are closest to me," says Engel-Natzke. "There's a lot of sacrifices that our family and friends make in order for us to reach our goals, so I hope they feel as proud as I am."

Along with her family and friends, she has had a few mentors who have been integral to her success and development. These include her club hockey coach at the University of Colorado, Kristen Wright, and the men's hockey head coach at the University of Wisconsin, Tony Granato. Wright and Granato pushed Engel-Natzke to step outside of her comfort zone in the pursuit of reaching her goals.

Her coaching journey

The dream of working in professional hockey was born out of Engel-Natzke's all-around love of the game. She originally enjoyed watching the sport as a fan, which quickly turned into Engel-Natzke beginning her playing career.

Once that chapter came to a close, Engel-Natzke was determined not to let that be the end of her hockey story.

She says, "I wanted to find a way to stay involved in the game because I loved it so much."

Her first opportunity came following her college graduation when she was asked to work at the 2013 World University Games. From there, Engel-Natzke says she was lucky to be surrounded by people who helped her find different jobs to apply for and continue to build her resume and experiences.

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It also helped that she had a background in film and video production from her college major.

"The creative mindset I had in college definitely comes in handy for my job now," says Engel-Natzke. "Working with technology, so many things can go wrong, so it's really beneficial to think creatively to problem solve. It also helps to understand the more technical side of video for when things go wrong as well."

Reflecting on how far she has come, Engel-Natzke is tremendously proud but not fully satisfied. She describes her success as "just getting started." For Engel-Natzke, success involves setting goals and working towards reaching them. It is not about the league, the title, or how much money she makes, but rather, it is about continuing to push the needle forward.

"I hope to be someone that can help other women enter into the sports world and find success like I have," Engel-Natzke says. "It's really important to me to open that door and help others who may not have the resources I do to get into sports or hockey specifically."

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