Many families dream of having one star athlete with the talent to compete at a high level of play. The Coskrens, however, are no ordinary family.
Juniors Nick and Mike Coskren both play for the Crimson men’s hockey team, while their sister Leanna is a freshman on the women’s squad.
In fact, all five of the Coskren siblings play or have played college hockey. Older brothers Tony and Tim were both members of the Holy Cross team.
While Nick and Mike agree that their brothers’ experience with the Crusaders was not the main reason they came to Harvard together, Nick thinks it did have some impact.
“We could just tell that for them [playing college hockey together] worked out really well,” Nick says. “They had a good time with it.”
Mike and Nick both attended St. Sebastian’s High School in Needham, Mass., and played together on the team there. Mike is a year older than Nick, but he took a year off before the two came to Harvard as freshmen in the fall of 2004.
For many siblings, going to the same school and playing on the same team would be enough contact. But for Mike and Nick, being teammates is only the beginning of the relationship. The two share the same group of friends and are roommates in Cabot House.
“We’ve shared a bedroom since we were very young and now we live together here,” Mike says. “So we’re pretty close.”
“It’s nice playing with him,” Nick adds. “We’ve grown up playing together and it’s nice having him there in the locker room every day.”
Mike and Nick, along with Leanna and their older brothers, would pass time in their younger days by tossing a puck around in the basement of the family house in Walpole, Mass. Now, the three Harvard students enjoy reminiscing about the times when the five siblings messed around together.
“That’s definitely how I got interested in goaltending,” Mike says. “We have a street hockey rink in our basement and our two older brothers always had me throw the pads on and play in net. That’s how I started—from playing down there [in the basement]…I didn’t really have a choice.”
And the two oldest brothers might have had something to do with Nick’s position as well.
“Mike kind of got thrown in net because our older brothers needed someone to shoot on, and then I just ended up getting to shoot on him as well,” Nick recalls.
Nick, who scored both of the Crimson’s goals in a 2-2 tie with Vermont Saturday night, now plays forward for the Crimson.
Leanna, however, remembers things slightly differently.
“Usually they stuck me in net, and they played two-on-two,” she says, laughing.
She admits, though, that her work ethic was improved by having to earn the respect of her brothers on the ice.
“Playing with them makes me tougher,” she says. “They weren’t going to stop the game for me.”
Leanna, who has played in every one of Harvard’s games this season, has already contributed three assists in her freshman year and has a plus/minus of eight.
She has also been a key part of a stingy defensive unit that has helped the Crimson get off to an 11-0-0 start this season and propelled them to the top of the national rankings.
While the men’s team may not be able to brag about being No. 1 in the polls—they are currently listed at No. 14—the Crimson men (6-3-2) are looking strong and have had an impressive start to their season as well.
The two teams’ hot starts have led to some “unspoken competition” between the siblings, according to Nick.
The “unspoken” part, however, may not apply to Leanna. With regards to what might happen if her team does better than that of her brothers, she admits that she probably will not remain silent.
“I might rub it in their face a little bit,” she says.
But the teasing does not undermine the support that the siblings show for one another. Mike and Nick try to go to all of the Leanna’s games and vice versa.
The brothers both say that Leanna being at school has added a new dynamic to the family relationship.
“It’s interesting because I’ve never really been around her much in terms of school and socially and athletically,” Mike says of his sister, who attended the Noble & Greenough School. “So it’s definitely different.”
With the three siblings so intimately involved in each others’ lives, the Coskrens have created a sense of home here at Harvard.
“We’re a close family,” Mike says. “So it’s a nice thing to have.”