Women’s hockey head coach Liz Keady Norton tapped as U18 women’s national team assistant coach

Big Green women’s hockey coach Liz Keady Norton will be assistant coach for the U18 women’s hockey team. From her players’ perspectives, there is no better coach for the job.

by Heath Monsma | 7/1/22 2:00am

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Source: Courtesy of the Dartmouth Athletics Department

Women’s hockey head coach Liz Keady Norton will be an assistant coach for the U18 U.S. women’s national team as they gear up for the International Ice Hockey Federation’s U18 Women’s World Championship, USA Hockey announced. The squad will travel to Brunflo, Sweden in January of 2023 to compete.

Despite winning eight out of the 14 U18 World Championships, the U.S. team has not held the gold medal for two years, after a COVID-19 cancellation in 2021 and a heartbreaking 3-2 championship loss at the hands of rival Canada in 2022. However, Keady Norton has some experience with reigniting hockey programs — this season Big Green had its most winning season since 2014. 

Keady Norton’s history with the national team dates back nearly 20 years to her playing days at Princeton University. In 2004, she played for the U22 team in a series against Canada and the Four Nations Cup, where she competed well enough to make the team that was heading to the world championship. However, due to an injury in her sophomore season, Keady Norton’s journey was put on pause until the next season when she played in the pre-Olympic tour with the team. 

Despite never seeing the ice in a gold medal game, Keady Norton said she looks back on her time fondly, adding that she hopes her hockey experiences are relatable to guide her players as a coach.  

“What I can bring as a former player is an understanding of the process and use that to take care of what is controllable, ” Keady Norton said. 

Since becoming a coach, Keady Norton has stayed close to Team USA, working in their development camps for the past eight years. She said that one of her goals as a coach is to give back to the sport that has been such a significant part of her life. Even with her dedication to the sport, the reward of the new role was never the goal for Keady Norton. 

“I’m humbled and honored to be asked, but I wasn’t necessarily expecting it and I’m just grateful to be a part of it,” she said. “At the national level, there are a lot of really qualified coaches working with this program, so I’m hopeful to learn from them and from the players as well.”

Dartmouth women’s hockey captain Currie Putrah ’23 recalled that in a conversation with her coach, Keady Norton stressed that getting the job demonstrated a lesson for life. 

“We talked about the importance of doing the little things right because it adds up to the bigger things like this opportunity,” Putrah said.

Strategically, Keady Norton is a versatile candidate for the job with experience working with forwards and defensemen in her coaching roles prior to Dartmouth, but in her mind that is only a small part of what she does. 

“As a coach, people always think about the hockey piece of it, the X’s and O’s, but honestly, that’s probably about 15% of my job on a daily basis,” she said. “It’s so much more about the relationships with the kids and what you’re giving to them on a personal level to help them perform their best.”

At her core, Keady Norton is a player-first coach and her attention to detail on and off the ice is what has brought her success, according to Big Green assistant captain Tiffany Hill ’24. 

“We can always just shoot her a text if we need something and she’ll get us help because she knows that we’re more than just hockey players,” Hill said. “She knows that Ivy League academics are hard and she cares about all of our wellbeing.”

Keady Norton’s philosophy is that by working at the micro level with each individual, it is possible to shape the entire team culture. Putrah identified three tenets from this philosophy: gratitude, commitment and accountability, adding that putting purpose behind each pass or shot elevates the caliber of the entire team. 

Keady Norton’s most valuable precept is “complete and don’t compare,” Putrah said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re the best or the worst, as long as you’re still competing with each other you’re making each other better.”

As Keady Norton travels across the country in preparation for the upcoming tournament, she has the support of her Dartmouth team behind her. 

“I can’t think of someone that deserves it more,” Putrah said. “She’s so determined and she acts not just as a coach, but also a role model and her work ethic drives us to be the best versions of ourselves.”

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