Duluth's Bellamy a tremendous ambassador for Bulldogs, hometown
After playing and coaching at Harvard, the Duluth Denfeld graduate returned home to work on the coaching staff of the Minnesota Duluth women's hockey program.
When Maura Crowell convinced Laura Bellamy to return home in 2015 and join her staff at the University of Minnesota Duluth, the new Bulldogs women’s head hockey coach not only gained one of the top up-and-coming assistant coaches in the sport, but also a tremendous ambassador for the program and community.
“Lu is a great teacher of our history and our past,” Crowell, a previous "20 Under 40" honoree, said. “And when it comes time to talk about what Duluth is like, she is the one we want to talk about it — born and raised.”
Despite being the program’s head coach, Crowell has gotten used to playing second fiddle when out and about in the Twin Ports with Bellamy, who was promoted from assistant coach to associate head coach prior to the 2019-20 season. And Crowell is OK with that after everything the hometown hero had accomplished by age 29.
“Duluth should really be proud of everything she’s done from her childhood up to now,” Crowell said.
A 2009 graduate of Duluth Denfeld, Bellamy was a standout starting pitcher for the Hunters’ softball program and all-star goaltender for the Duluth Northern Stars hockey co-op. She went on to backstop the Harvard women’s hockey team for four seasons in goal — with Crowell as one of her assistant coaches for three of those four seasons — before spending two seasons with Crowell as an assistant coach on Katey Stone’s Crimson staff.
When Crowell was hired to take over the Bulldogs in 2015, Bellamy was primed to become Stone’s new top lieutenant despite being just three years removed from her playing days at Harvard.
But after being such an important resource for her during UMD’s hiring process, Crowell knew Bellamy could be an even greater asset to the Bulldogs. So she lured the West Duluth native home.
While not an alumnus of the UMD program, Bellamy grew up watching the Bulldogs win national championships as a young fan in Duluth. She had personal connections with many of the program’s legends. Bellamy said it was inspiring to watch pioneers of women’s hockey pioneers, such as Caroline Ouellette, lead the Bulldogs to the first three NCAA titles.
“It’s special for me. You grow up watching all these teams and their players are your heroes,” said Bellamy, who was 10 years old when UMD won the first of three straight national titles in 2001. “To come back and work with those same kids is an unbelievable opportunity and I feel so fortunate.”
Bellamy’s ties to the Duluth community are also rich. Those same former teachers and coaches who come up to say "hi" to Bellamy when she and the coaching staff are out at a local brewery are who the former Hunter and North Star turns to when the program wants to get involved in the community, such as reading in schools or helping with youth hockey.
Bellamy is involved with the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation. After helping the organization with its Young Leaders Fund, she is now part of the organization’s scholarship subcommittee reading essays written by students.
It wasn’t too long ago that Bellamy was the one submitting an essay to the foundation, which awarded her a scholarship after she graduated from Denfeld. Since Ivy League schools like Harvard don’t award athletic scholarships, Bellamy said the aid from the foundation helped her “immensely” and is why she was able to attend Harvard.
“One thing that’s so fulfilling about coaching is giving back to your community,” Bellamy said. “The fact that I've been able to do that at the place I went to school and then come back and do it at the place I grew up, I feel really fortunate.”