NORTHFIELD – Norwich University Director of Athletics Tony Mariano announced on Friday that Sophie Leclerc will be returning to her alma mater as the second head coach in Norwich University women’s ice hockey program history.
Leclerc will formally be introduced at a press conference scheduled for Monday at noon in Doyle Hall.
The Barre native returns to Norwich and Central Vermont after spending four years as an assistant coach at Division I Colgate University. She helped lead the Raiders women’s hockey program to unprecedented levels of success during her tenure. She replaces former Norwich coach Mark Bolding, who left to become the head women’s hockey coach at Yale in April.
“I am pleased to announce that Sophie Leclerc, former All-American women’s hockey standout for Norwich University, will become the second women’s ice hockey coach in our program's rich history,” Mariano said. “Sophie had an outstanding playing career and her experience as an assistant coach at Norwich and Colgate University has prepared her for our head coaching position. I am excited for the future of Norwich women’s hockey under Sophie’s direction and I look forward to many successful years ahead for women's hockey at Norwich.”
Leclerc helped head coach Greg Fargo lead a dramatic program turnaround at Colgate with a 101-36-1 record in their four seasons together, including making the program's first appearance in the NCAA Division I National Championship game in 2017-18. Prior to Leclerc’s arrival at Colgate, the Raiders had never had a 20-win season and their best win total in the previous five seasons was 11.
“I am humbled and feel extremely fortunate to accept the position of head women’s hockey coach at my alma mater,” Leclerc said. “Together, our staff and players will continue to embrace the overall mission of Norwich and represent our institution, program and community, on and off the ice, with purpose, enthusiasm, and excellence.”
In 2017-18 Colgate won a program-record 34 games, shattering its previous high of 22 games. The Raiders also won their first ECAC Hockey regular season conference title, made their first conference title game appearance, first NCAA Tournament berth and first Frozen Four appearance. Leclerc also played an instrumental role in bringing in the nation’s No. 1-ranked recruiting class for the 2019-20 season.
Leclerc was a four-year standout at Norwich, helping build the program from the ground up as a player on the inaugural varsity team in 2007-08. She went on to cap her playing career by guiding NU to its first national championship with a 5-2 victory over RIT in 2011.
Leclerc ranks as the all-time program assists leader and is ranked second in nearly every other offensive category, including career points. She scored 72 goals (third) and tallied 91 assists for 163 points in 112 career games.
During her senior year, Leclerc set new single-season personal records at the time for goals (26), assists (28) and points (54). She was named the NEHC Player of the Year, New England Division III Player of the Year, American Hockey Coaches Association First Team All-American and was the runner up for the Laura Hurd Award (National D-III Player of the Year).
After graduation, she spent one season as the head girl’s ice hockey coach at Kimball Union Academy in Meriden, N.H., Leclerc returned to Norwich to serve as the full-time assistant coach under Bolding in 2013-14 and 2014-15.
In two seasons she led the Cadets to back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances, including a NCAA Division III National runner-U=up finish in 2013-14. Norwich posted a 49-10-3 mark in Leclerc’s tenure as an assistant coach.
“I cannot begin to thank Mark Bolding and Greg Fargo enough for their immeasurable support, mentorship and lessons shared over the past 10 years,” Leclerc said. “They have without a doubt created and fostered the love I have for this game and the relentless desire to share it with others through coaching.”
Leclerc graduated from Norwich with a Physical Education degree and then also earned her Masters in Organizational Leadership in 2012.
“As a former player and coach here, I don't think I ever stopped thinking about Norwich,” Leclerc said. “I love this place and the memories it created for me. I have always dreamed of being the head coach here.”
Norwich won its ninth NEHC Tournament title and eighth NEHC regular season title in 2018-19 and qualified for the NCAA Tournament for the 10th time in the program's 12-year history. The Cadets finished with a 21-6-2 record, falling 3-1 to Williams College in the NCAA Tournament First Round.
During Bolding’s 12 seasons, he founded a new varsity women’s program and helped build it into the perennial NCAA Division III perennial power it has become. He compiled a 266-68-22 record and guided the Cadets to two national championships and seven Frozen Four appearances.