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Student of the Game, Lessons for Life

Women’s hockey coach Meredith Roth (above) has been a student of the game since her youth when she played on boys’ teams in Dubuque, Iowa. There were even times when hockey took over when she was supposed to be studying another subject.

“Joe Waldo, who died a few years ago, was one of the many good coaches I had. He gave us a playbook,” explains Roth, who is in her second season leading the Green Knights. “I would take it to school. I would take it to class. I probably shouldn’t say this, but I would have my playbook out in class, learning about systems.”

Roth knew at a young age that she wanted to coach following her playing days. Her first coaching job was at Shattuck-St. Mary School in Faribault, Minn. – the school she attended for her junior and senior years of high school. She coached a combined seven years as an assistant to Bob Deraney at Providence College, including the three years prior to taking the St. Norbert position, and two years as a volunteer assistant at Cornell University while earning a master’s degree at SUNY-Cortland.

St. Norbert is a small liberal arts school very similar to Providence, Roth says. But the Providence program has a more than 40-year history. Green Knight women’s hockey is only in its seventh season: “Rob Morgan, who was here before me, did a wonderful job of getting the right people in the room. Hockey is a small world. I worked camps with him.”

She describes her first season in De Pere as a “sprint.” She took over the job on Sept. 1, 2015. The Green Knights finished 15-9-4 a season ago and advanced to the championship game of the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association Slaats Cup Playoffs.

This season, the team has struggled with injuries and consistent scoring. “When you get behind early, you grip your stick a little tighter,” says Roth. “When you have those close games and don’t come out on top, that’s very challenging. The self-confidence piece is a learned skill and we’ve been battling with that. You attach so much to the win-loss record, but as a coach, you know it’s bigger than that. We are focusing on what we can do today that will help us be better tomorrow. “I learned right away that coaching is not X’s and O’s. One of my goals is to always remember what it’s like to be in their skates, remember what it’s like to be a student-athlete.”

Roth wants her team, which features only three seniors on the roster, to play fast and control the puck on offense. Defensively, she praises their aggressiveness. “The program has had some success. Making the NCAA tournament in 2013 turned some heads,” she says. “For our players in the room, that’s the level they want to achieve.

“We are not a team that wants to sit and wait. We are right there. We just need to continue to battle and persevere.”

March 17, 2017