Caps' Engel-Natzke breaks down video coordinator role

Emily Engel-Natzke

WASHINGTON — The Nationals hosted a panel during their Ladies Night event Friday featuring three high-ranking women in the D.C. professional sports landscape to discuss their careers and the paths they took to get to where they are today.

Among them was Washington Capitals video coordinator Emily Engel-Natzke, who was promoted in June to become the first full-time female coach in franchise history and the first woman to ever hold the position since the NHL’s inception. She talked during the Q&A session about what goes into being a video coordinator.

“I like to think of us as kind of a messenger of information,” Engel-Natzke said. “Every game, we are marking probably hundreds or thousands of different instances and it would be almost impossible for one person to go through and watch every single thing that’s happening. So, us on the video staff, we like to think of ourselves as the middle man between everything that’s going on and the information coaches need to get.”

Engel-Natzke estimated that the video coordinators identify and label up to 1,000 instances per game, which allows their fellow coaches to sort through the footage at a much faster rate and comb over more of it throughout the season.

“Every player shift, every faceoff, basically everything that happens we’re marking and everything is categorized,” Engel-Natzke said. “So if a coach just wants to watch power-play faceoffs, they can click on that row and they all pop up. So we try to make things easy as possible for the other coaches so that everyone can do their job the most effectively and efficiently.”


In addition to Engel-Natzke, the Nationals also invited Mystics VP of Marketing Dana Campbell and D.C. United General Manager and Head of Technical Recruitment and Analysis Lucy Rushton. The trio discussed how each of their sports has progressed in giving more opportunities to women but agreed there was plenty more work to do.

“I think I’ve gotten used to being the only woman in a coach’s room or obviously in a locker-room setting,” Engel-Natzke said. “So, when I think, ‘Is it a male-dominated industry?’ I think in certain positions, yes. There obviously are not a lot of women coaching in the NHL, in the American Hockey League. Even in college hockey, there are no women who are coaching in the men’s NCAA teams and there’s only a few staffs that have a female head coach.

“We do need more women in those spaces because there’s many qualified women who could be coaching at so many different levels. I think it’s great there’s so many women working in the front offices in management, VP roles, but there’s definitely a shortage when it comes to…the higher-profile, on-the-bench coaching where it’s more visible to younger girls, younger boys for them to see that it’s not just men who coach hockey. There are plenty of women who know the game better than a lot of men do.”