DURHAM, N.H. – The University of New Hampshire athletic department announced Wednesday that Hilary Witt, who most recently served as assistant coach on the 2014 U.S. Olympic Women's Ice Hockey Team, has been hired as the UNH women's ice hockey head coach. Witt's official start date is May 5.
Witt brings a wealth of coaching experience at both the national and collegiate levels to UNH, and her highly-decorated collegiate career at Northeastern University was followed by playing time with the U.S. National Team.
"We are very excited to welcome Hilary to the UNH family," UNH athletic director Marty Scarano said. "She is one of the brightest young coaches in the nation, has a fabulous understanding of the game and her recruiting ties will have an immediate impact on our program. Furthermore Hilary is one of the all time great players in women's hockey and knows exactly what it takes to succeed at this level. We look forward to her leadership in rebuilding UNH into once again a national contender."
Witt, a native of Canton, Mass., has been involved with the U.S. Women's National Team the past several years as both assistant coach and head scout. In addition to silver at the 2014 Olympics, she helped the U.S. win a pair of gold medals (2011, 2013) and silver medals (2007, 2012) at the IIHF Women's World Championship.
"It is an honor and a privilege to have the opportunity to join the University of New Hampshire and lead this program into the future," said Witt, who is the fourth head coach in the 37-year history of the UNH women's ice hockey program.
Witt's most recent stint with USA Hockey began in July 2012 after two seasons as assistant coach at her alma mater, Northeastern. The Huskies advanced to the Hockey East final in 2011 and won the Beanpot title in 2012, and NU saw an improvement of six wins in its overall record as well as nine wins in Hockey East league play from the '11 to '12 campaigns.
Prior to that, Witt spent nine years (2002-10), including the final eight as head coach, at Yale University. She was honored as ECAC Coach of the Year in her first season at the helm (2003). In the next two seasons, Witt's Bulldogs set program records for overall (16) and conference (12) wins, and they advanced to the ECAC semifinals in '05. With 96 wins, Witt is the winningest coach in program history and she guided Yale to the ECAC playoffs six straight seasons (2003-08).
Her teams excelled both on the ice and in the classroom. Under Witt's tutelage, the Bulldogs had three New England Hockey Writers Division I All-Star team selections, one All-ECAC First Team selection, three All-ECAC Second Team selections and three ECAC All-Rookie selections. She also coached two Olympians.
Yale had a total of 85 ECAC All-Academic honorees, including a school-record 21 in 2009, during Witt's eight years as head coach. Furthermore, the Bulldogs had three finalists for the ECAC Hockey Student-Athlete of the Year Award and an Academic All-Ivy League selection each of Witt's last six years.
Witt is the only Northeastern player who has eclipsed either 100 career goals or 200 career points, as she is the all-time leader with 113 goals and 208 points; she also ranks third in career assists (95) as well as second in games (140).
The 2001 graduate with a degree in Communications led the team in goals all four years, in assists twice (1998, 2000) and in points her final three years (1998-99-2000). Witt still holds three of the top 10 marks on NU's single-season list for both goals and points.
In addition to her Northeastern career records, Witt is also the program leader in Beanpot points (20), power-play goals in both a season (12) and a career (33), and is tied for the most career hat tricks with nine.
Witt was a three-time candidate for the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, which is presented annually to the most outstanding player in women's college hockey, a two-time ECAC Second Team selection (1998, 2000) and ECAC Tournament MVP (1997) – as a freshman in '97, she scored two goals, including the game winner, in the ECAC title game against UNH. She also captained the squad as a senior.
In her four-year career (1997-2000), Witt helped lead the Huskies to an overall record of 100-29-11 that included 69-16-9 in the ECAC. They won back-to-back Beanpots (1997-98) and the ECAC title in '97. NU was also one of four teams selected to compete at the inaugural national championship tournament, which was sponsored by the American Women's College Hockey Alliance in 1998.
Witt was honored for her exemplary collegiate career with her induction into the Northeastern University Hall of Fame in '05 and the Women's Beanpot Hall of Fame in 2010. She has also been inducted into the Massachusetts Hockey Hall of Fame.
As an elite forward, Witt continued her playing career on the 2001 U.S. Women's National Team and won silver at the IIHF World Championship. One year later, she began her coaching career as a Yale assistant. Witt carries a total of 11 years experience in college coaching with her to the UNH women's hockey program.