The origins of Jessica Koizumi’s frigid career calling began in, of all places, Hawaii.

A childhood skating session at Ice Palace at age 7, just before her family moved to Minnesota, was a fond first memory of being on the ice. She loved it.

After some initial objections to the move to the frigid Midwest, Koizumi wanted to do what all the other kids were doing in the Land of 10,000 Lakes: hockey.

“I haven't looked back since,” Koizumi told Spectrum News in a recent interview. “It encompasses my whole entire life. I have my best friends, my career, my education, everything came through the sport of hockey.”

After moving to California at 11 and playing with the boys until age 15, Koizumi went on to become an accomplished college athlete, a professional in the burgeoning North America women’s hockey leagues, and even a member of Team USA. She went on to be an assistant coach at Yale, Ohio State and Vermont for 13 years.

And now, Koizumi, 38, is returning to the islands in the hope of passing on some of what she learned to the next generation of local girls. It's in line with her new career path of helping high schoolers in New England play at the next level.

Koizumi is the featured instructor at five sessions for females at Kapolei Inline Hockey Arenas from Aug. 15 to 19. Boys and girls ages 8 to 12 are welcome.

The bar is not high. The last of those sessions is for people to learn how to skate, period.

“This could be a really good, comfortable environment for the girls to feel relaxed and really start to work on their skill and not feel maybe embarrassed … that they would around coed-type situations,” Koizumi said.

She had two goals in the 2007 Frozen Four semifinals to help Minnesota Duluth reach the NCAA championship game. She scored the first-ever goal in the National Women’s Hockey League in 2015. And she helped Team USA to a gold medal at the IIHF Women's World Championships in 2008.

But her go-to icebreaker? It’s usually the fact that she was once selected as the top professional hockey player from Hawaii. But she's also (nearly) the only one.

“Everyone starts clapping. Which is pretty funny,” she said.

Koizumi noticed a huge uptick in inline hockey popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic, when people sought outdoor activities. Most of a ice hockey player’s skill set translates to inline, she said.

KIHA is an air-conditioned indoor facility built in 2010 with two full-size inline hockey rinks.

Doug Jones has been KIHA’s director of hockey operations since September 2022. He’s managed similar facilities in California over the past 30 years.

“One of the first things I noticed when I got here to Hawaii, was that we had coed girls and boys playing together,” Jones said. “But I just felt that the women really needed to have their own opportunity to show they could do their own thing and be very, very competitive. We could start developing very strong women hockey players. What Jessica has accomplished in her life is absolutely amazing.”

Jones reached out to Koizumi in the hope of getting her to come back to the islands for the full-circle moment with the clinics. It turned out she needed little persuading; she has plenty of extended family still on Oahu.

“I got in touch with her and I said, ‘Hey, any chance we could ever get you out here to work with our women and help us build the sport in the direction that we want to go with women's hockey?’ and she jumped at the chance,” he said.

Right now, KIHA has two women’s teams of eight players each, Jones said. The organization has stopped participating in outside tournaments until it builds up its players’ skills, with a target of 2025 to resume those competitions, Jones said. However, KIHA boasts some individual youth champions at recent mainland events.

Since leaving college coaching, Koizumi has found it rewarding to work with players of various ages and abilities.

“It doesn't matter if they're playing hockey out of Minnesota, or Hawaii, it's a personal thing, to want to have the drive to be excited about it,” she said. “But they have to be exposed to it. Because if I never got exposed to it, I would never have started hockey in Minnesota.

“I'm advising players that may not even be good enough to play Division III hockey, but would be good enough to play club hockey, which is still exciting,” she added. “That could be a really cool opportunity for a player coming out of Hawaii. I'm hoping that (these clinics) can draw some interest and I think (inline) is a relatively cheaper way to play hockey.”

Koizumi’s clinics at KIHA are Aug. 15, 16 and 17 from 7:30 to 9 p.m., and Aug. 19 from 11 a.m. to noon. The free learn-to-skate session follows the last clinic.

The clinics are $15 per person per clinic, or $10 for KIHA members. Gear rentals for the clinics are $12 per day, but free for the learn-to-skate period.

To inquire about the clinics, contact Doug Jones at

Brian McInnis covers the state's sports scene for Spectrum News Hawaii. He can be reached at