For the past two seasons Cydney Roesler has been a reliable defender for the Connecticut Whale. With her skating ability and 5-foot-9 frame there isn’t much that the Canadian can’t handle.
But in her third NWHL season she’ll be facing a unique challenge: Roesler will be both a player and an assistant coach for the Whale in 2018-19.
Connecticut’s second-year head coach Ryan Equale has complete faith in Roesler’s ability to wear both hats in 2018-19.
“The departure of Sara Ugalde left a void that needed to be filled by the right candidate and [Roesler] more than meets the criteria I look for in a coach,” Equale explained in the league’s press release. “Cyd has a high Hockey IQ, a strong level of commitment, solid communication skills and understands the needs of the team and the players as well as anyone in the league.”
It’s clear that Equale has a lot of faith in Roesler’s abilities as both a player and a leader. The only thing that kept her out of the Whale’s lineup last year were injuries. When she was healthy, and on the ice, she was a calming force for a team that spent far too much time in its own zone. It’s no wonder Equale wanted her on his coaching staff.
“It was something that, honestly, I didn’t really think of before,” Roesler admitted in an interview with The Ice Garden. “I was planning to play a third season, then Ryan [Equale] brought it up to me. It was something that he and Hayley Moore [NWHL Deputy Commissioner] had discussed.”
The idea of being a player-coach for the Whale immediately appealed to Roesler. She was on board with it from the get-go.
Although she’s only 24, Roesler already has some coaching experience. For the past two years she has volunteered as an assistant coach at her alma mater, Quinnipiac University. The Bobcats have finished in the green in shot differential and have had a penalty kill success rate of 85.2 percent or better in the last two years with Roesler behind the bench. Clearly, the 14th captain in the program’s history is a student of the game.
Roesler and Equale will be hammering out the details of her role and responsibilities as a coach this week, but it’s a safe bet that she will be helping to manage Connecticut’s blue line. Defense is what Roesler knows best.
“I know it will be an adjustment, that’s for sure, but it’s something that I’m really excited to try,” Roesler told The Ice Garden. “It’s nice to know that Ryan has the confidence in me to do it. It is going to be a learning experience. Maybe in the beginning I’ll make some errors, but I think that it’s something I can adjust to. Hopefully, I will do a good job.
“In some aspects, it might give me a bit of an advantage,” she continued. “I’ll be able to see from the players’ perspective and the coach’s perspective. It’s about finding that balance.”
The big defender isn’t too concerned about the new challenges she’ll face as a player-coach. She’s been preparing for her third season with Connecticut just like she prepared for the last two. She’s training every day and doing everything she can to get on the ice more frequently as camp and the preseason approach.
“I know that I might not play every single game, depending on numbers and stuff and if they need me more behind the bench,” Roesler explained. “But I need to be ready to go at all times, which might be a little more challenging than what I’m used to.”
Unsurprisingly, Roesler is excited about the challenge that lies before her. She likes having to stay on her toes and needing to be ready for whatever might come next. It’s the mentality that every good defender needs to have, and, as it turns out, it will come in handy for the NWHL’s first true player-coach.