Returning after a five-year hiatus from the East Hill, Danielle Bilodeau ’01, the new assistant women’s hockey coach, is excited to be back.
“I always wanted to come back and be part of the family here,” Bilodeau said. “Cornell is something I’m really passionate about.”
Bilodeau graduated from Cornell with not only four years of experience as a player, but also a handful of honors. She received the Jeff Stenstrom Memorial Award during her freshman year, and earned All-Ivy honors her sophomore year. Bilodeau received the ECAC Academic Award twice as a junior and senior and was named a captain of the team in her last year with Cornell. She was also a Hockey Humanitarian Award nominee during her final season with Red.
[img_assist|nid=18560|title=No place like home|desc=Former forward Danielle Bilodeau ’01 will return to the Red’s bench at Lynah Rink this season as an assistant coach for the women’s hockey team. (Deborah Chang / Sun Staff)|link=popup|align=right|width=100|height=66]
After graduation, Bilodeau played semi-professional hockey in Toronto for one year. However, she was forced to move on quickly as a result of injuries and landed a job as the assistant coach at Princeton for four years.
Returning to Cornell with four successful seasons of coaching under her belt, Bilodeau regards her experience on both sides of the game as valuable.
“There’s a difference between playing the game and coaching the game,” Bilodeau said. “There’s so much more there that you don’t necessarily appreciate as a player that you get to learn as a coach.”
Furthermore, Bilodeau is no stranger to juggling a college education and a varsity sport simultaneously.
“I know all the pressures the kids have to go through,” Bilodeau said. “I’m still close in age to them, so I’m still able to relate to what they’re going through in their lives.”
Bilodeau is confident not only in her ability to relate to the players, but also with her capacity to work well with the coaching staff, namely head coach Doug Derraugh ’91.
“Coach Derraugh is great,” Bilodeau said. “I think we’re pretty similar in terms of the intensity and passion we bring to the game. That’s what I like about him. I know that he’s going to do the work necessary to make the program better, and I’m really excited to work with him.”
Even though the Red has had a number of rough seasons in the past couple of years — Cornell finished last season with a record of 9-18-1, (5-15-0 ECACHL) — Bilodeau is coming back to Cornell confident in the ability of this year’s team to turn it around.
“It’s making that really important decision in sports that you’re not defined by your achievements but you achieve as you define yourself,” Bilodeau said. “That’s something you have to commit to every single day and in every single thing you do, whether you represent the team with an official-visit recruit or you’re in the weight room doing your last set of bench presses.”
Regardless of past records, it’s Bilodeau’s ability to relate to Cornell athletics and academic life that ground her as an integral part of rebuilding the program.
“I know our kids work hard, and I know they have a lot of pressures,” Bilodeau said. “I’ll help them focus every time they come to the rink, knowing that that’s something that I had to do as well.”