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Rose Misiewicz and Hannah DeLong Carry Childhood Bond to the U.S. Women’s Development Sled Team

By Bob Reinert, 03/27/24, 5:15PM EDT


After meeting in high school, Misiewicz and DeLong have been coaches for Team USA since 2019.

Rose Misiewicz and Hannah DeLong first met as teenage roommates more than two decades ago at Berkshire School, a boarding school in Sheffield, Massachusetts.

They played hockey together there and remained teammates at Middlebury College in Vermont.

Therefore, when Misiewicz, a Duluth, Minnesota native, took over as head coach of the U.S. Women’s Development Sled Hockey Team in 2019, her first choice for an assistant coach was obvious. 

“(DeLong) was really the first person that I thought of,” Misiewicz said. “She’s kind of like my sister. We’ve known each other for quite a long time. She’s a very good complement. We work really well together. It ends up being a pretty good partnership that her and I have with the team.”

The longtime friends joined forces again March 13-16 for the three-game 2024 Sled Series against Canada at MAYSA Arena in Minot, North Dakota.

The U.S. played well in the series, sweeping the Canadians and outscoring them 17-2 across three victories.

The U.S. hadn’t played together since September when it defended its title at the 2023 Para Ice Hockey Women's World Challenge in Green Bay, Wisconsin. That meant Misiewicz had some work to do with their players when they reached Minot.

“It was a lot of, let’s say, correcting bad habits in the beginning,” she said. “It’s amazing how quick those bad habits form.”

With only a couple competitions a year, Misiewicz doesn’t get a ton of practice time with the players. When the team is together, she tries to narrowly focus on one goal to make sure that gets accomplished in the short time they have on the ice. 

The team studies film when they’re together. After an event, Misiewicz andDeLong send the players back home with ideas of what to work on.

“They really like feedback, and they want to know what they can do to get better,” Misiewicz said. “A lot of them haven’t grown up playing hockey. In terms of that hockey sense, they don’t come into the sport of sled hockey having that.”

DeLong pointed out that on top of different levels of experience, a lot of the players have separate mindsets when it comes to what they want out of playing the game. 

“A lot of people have gotten into the sport for a sense of community and a feeling of belonging for the first time as a disabled athlete,” DeLong said. “And then some of them are true hard-core athletes, watch a lot of hockey, play a lot of hockey and live, breathe ice hockey.”

Dealing with that range of mindsets can be a challenge, but DeLong said the women on the team always mesh quickly once they get on the ice. 

“We have to bring these girls from all different backgrounds, hockey knowledge, playing abilities, put them together, and then also take it to a different level,” she said. “The cool thing is they come, and it takes a day to readjust, and then you start seeing them play together and feeling part of a team, and they just love it.”

As a nurse practitioner in the VA health care system, DeLong, of Belmont, Massachusetts, takes joy in coaching a team that includes four veterans on its roster.

Misiewicz and DeLong lead the U.S. program at a critical time in the sport’s growth, between the debut of the Para Ice Hockey Women’s World Challenge in 2022, to this year’s Sled Series in Minot, which broadcast live on 

Misiewicz noted that the current roster features players from a variety of different backgrounds and ages. 

“You look at that age span, and it’s incredible every time we come together and how inclusive and how much of a team these ladies really are and how they just jell and look out for each other and even stay in contact,” said Misiewicz.

“It’s such an amazing group of women to work with. They all have different disabilities and different abilities, and it’s just incredible to see everything that they do. I know it’s challenging for them. It’s just amazing how much passion and dedication they all have for the sport and to see it grow, as well.”

DeLong added that she hopes to see current players enter the coaching ranks someday.

“If we’re doing our job right, in the next 10 years, we’d love to see that full staff of women who also have disabilities coaching,” she said. “A part of my role that I really love is actually mentoring our players to be coaches.”

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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