Former Griffins goaltender Natalie Bender returns to MacEwan Athletics in new full-time role

Natalie Bender is the new MacEwan Athletics Events and Engagement Coordinator.
Natalie Bender is the new MacEwan Athletics Events and Engagement Coordinator.

MacEwan Athletics

EDMONTON – A familiar face has returned to the MacEwan Athletics department.

Former women's hockey goaltender Natalie Bender has joined the Griffins full-time in the newly-created role of Athletics Events & Engagement Coordinator.

Bender, who played for the Griffins from 2017-22 and also served on the Student Athlete Council (SAC) as President from 2020-22, will be involved in event coordination and engagement with internal and external stakeholders.

"As a student-athlete and SAC President, Natalie was exceptional as a leader on her team and in the community," said MacEwan Director of Athletics Joel Mrak. "In the time away from MacEwan, she continued to grow and hone her skills and demonstrated this mature perspective in her interview, that she was the right fit for where we are in the evolution of Griffins Athletics. 

"We are excited to have Natalie back home with us and look forward to her contributions across athletics and campus."

Bender graduated from MacEwan in 2022 with a Bachelor of Commerce, Major in Marketing and Minor in Human Resources. She previously worked as a marketing assistant with Stahl Peterbilt since October 2022.

Bender has also worked for Nutrien AG Solutions and has had roles as a hockey and softball coach for various teams and organizations in the Edmonton area.

Returning to MacEwan will give her a chance to work full-time in sports, a culmination of her successful athletic careers in hockey and softball. 

"I am super excited to be back with Griffins Athletics," said Bender. "It feels like a second home for me. 

"I have had some fantastic opportunities and countless memories throughout my time on the women's hockey team. I am looking forward to using these experiences to help continue to build the Griffins Athletics Program and help create fantastic experiences for student athletes, fans and the community." 

Natalie Bender was named the Most Oustanding Player for the Griffins women's hockey team in 2021-22 (Joel Kingston photo).

While at MacEwan, Bender set several women's hockey program records, including the most career shutouts (12), most shutouts in a regular season (6), best save percentage in a season (.970), best GAA in a season (0.66) and many more.

Along the way, she helped the Griffins win two ACAC Championships, was an Academic All Canadian twice, an ACAC all-star in 2017-18 and the Griffins' Most Outstanding player in 2021-22, their first season in Canada West. Bender was a co-emcee at the 2022 MacEwan Athletics Award Banquet. 

Bender also served in a leadership capacity as President of the MacEwan Student Athlete's Council from 2020-22 after also serving as the council's hockey representative in 2019-20. 

Bender represented MacEwan Athletics on the Canada West Student-Athlete Engagement Committee in 2021-23 and participated in the Canadian University Sport Administration Certificate program – a female leadership development course facilitated by Canada West.