The hockey world recorded a milestone when Olivia Soares of Union College and Nina Rodgers of Dartmouth became the first two Black women coaches to oppose each other in a Division 1 college hockey game on Nov. 5.
Soares’ Union College team earned a 5-4 win in overtime over Rodgers’ visiting Dartmouth squad.
Soares joined Union as an assistant coach to Josh Sciba this summer. Rodgers is in her second season as an assistant to Liz Keady Norton.
They are the only two Black women to serve as coaches at the Division 1 level in women’s college hockey.
“Just having little girls being able to see not only one, but two of us living our dream in a space that’s not always welcoming to us,” Rodgers said to NHL.com’s William Douglas. “And then us kind of honing our role into, like, into believing that we do belong here, too, and we’re doing what we love to do. We’re just going to keep spreading the joy, the love and keep being role models.”
Soares is a Boston-area native who has also been an assistant coach at Colby College, a Division 3 school in Maine. She played hockey at Ohio State for four years and was a captain her senior year.
Rodgers, who Dartmouth says is believed to have been the first Black woman to coach Division 1 women’s hockey, is a Minnesota native who played two years at Minnesota and won two national titles before joining Boston University. She went on to play in the National Women’s Hockey League for the Connecticut Whale and the Minnesota Whitecaps.