William J. Cleary Jr. '56, perhaps the greatst hockey player ever to play for Harvard, has been named freshman hockey coach for this season.
Cleary replaces another Harvard great, Eugene Kinasewich, who will become assistant varsity coach. Kinasewich is also assistant dean of Harvard College and gave his increased duties in that position as the reason for his coaching switch.
"The freshman job takes three hours every afternoon starting in October. I found it too strenuous," Kinasewich said yesterday. "The varsity job will only take two hours and starts later in the afternoon. Also Cooney Weiland has been handling the varsity by himself and has requested some help," he said.
There has been much speculation that Weiland will step down soon as varsity coach. "Since I have no asperations for the head varsity coaching job, Cleary is a top contender," said Kinasewich. "The freshman job will give him a chance to show how he can manage a team." It was reported yesterday, however, that Weiland will probably stay for at least three more years as head coach.
In his three years on the varsity, Cleary captured almost every scoring record at Harvard and several national honors as well. In his junior year he led his team to a 17-3-1 record, becoming the highest scorer in NCAA history on the way. He had a hand in two out of every three goals that season, with 42 goals and 47 assists.
In his junior year, Cleary won the title of Most Valuable Player in New England as well as All-American honors.
Bill and his brother, Robert B. Cleary '58, teamed up in both the 1956 and 1960 Olympics. In the 1960 games the American team swept past the powerful Canadian and Russian teams to face Czechoslovakia in the finals. Trailing 4-3 going into the final period, the Americans exploded for six goals to win the gold medal, 9-4. The Clearys ended their competitive careers in style, accounting for three goals and five assists in that final game.
Since 1960 Bill Cleary has been one of the top officials of the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference. He plans to leave officiating "unless the ECAC needs me in a pinch."
"I'm really delighted," says Weiland about the re-alignment. "Bill knows the game inside out and has a keen interest in it. And Gene has worked with me at my hockey school. I'm looking forward to having him help with the varsity. Having two fellows like this in our program can't help but benefit Harvard hockey."