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Jamie Kivi with the Marian team.

Coach Class Works for High Fliers

Assistant coaching positions at the NCAA Division III level are, almost by definition, stepping-stones to other positions up the coaching ladder. The St. Norbert women’s hockey program is not immune to that dynamic.

Quality assistants have helped the St. Norbert program rise from humble beginnings to its place as one of the top programs in the nation heading into its fifth season. Head coach Rob Morgan has watched a steady stream of assistants cut their coaching teeth with the Green Knights. “The neat thing about Division III is they do everything as an assistant coach,” Morgan said. “They have a role in equipment management, laundry, planning practices, recruiting, budget, learning to cut video and how to teach on the ice. They’re involved in everything. They’re not here just pushing pucks.”

Jamie Kivi was Morgan’s assistant during the program’s first two years. Morgan had recruited the Green Bay native as a high school player when he coached at Dartmouth College. Morgan heard through the grapevine that Kivi was looking to get into coaching after graduating from Elmira College, and planted the seeds of joining his staff while attending the Frozen Four. Kivi parlayed her experience at St. Norbert into the head-coaching job at Marian University in Fond du Lac, Wis. After just her second season with Marian’s new program, Kivi earned 2013-14 NCHA Co-Coach of the Year honors along with her mentor, Morgan.

Jillian Kirchner, who joined the Green Knights as an assistant following Kivi’s departure, also had her first meeting with Morgan during her recruiting journey. While Morgan wanted Kirchner for Dartmouth, Kirchner accepted a full scholarship to Boston University. She is now a top assistant at Brown University, the Ivy League Division I program. “She moved up quickly, and we’re proud to have been a part of her coaching roots,” Morgan said. “She was part of the founding program at BU, and now they’re a national contender.”

Amanda Trunzo filled the assistant position after Kirchner moved on. A finalist for national player of the year honors during her career at Dartmouth under Morgan, Trunzo coached high-school hockey for a year before making the move to St. Norbert. She is now the lead assistant at Gustavus Adolphus College.

“All three had outstanding collegiate careers as players and bring a great amount of knowledge from a student-athlete’s perspective,” Morgan said. “The common characteristic between all three is that they are super-passionate about wanting to be career coaches.”

Nov. 13, 2014