When Canada won the gold medal in women’s hockey at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, fans north of the border celebrated a well-deserved, third-straight title in the event. But back in America, fans were disappointed that the U.S. women had once again fallen short, claiming a single gold medal to the Canadians' three.
It was only natural, then, that USA Hockey would recruit Crimson coach Katey Stone—who has racked up the most wins in the history of women's college hockey—as the head coach of the national team for the 2010-2011 season.
“She’s long overdue for another shot with the national team,” said Caitlin Cahow ’07-’08, a defenseman for the U.S. team, about Stone and the June 24th announcement of her appointment. “Her success at Harvard speaks for itself.”
“She’ll bring together a lot of knowledge and an enthusiasm that will be contagious,” Julie Chu ’06-’07 added.
Stone's coaching accomplishments at Harvard make for a lengthy list.
In 16 seasons with the Crimson, she has led the Harvard team to the 1999 National Championship and followed up with three straight NCAA Championship appearances in 2003, 2004, and 2005. Under her direction, the Crimson has garnered five ECAC tournament titles, six ECAC regular season titles, and 10 Beanpot titles. Only twice in the history of the NCAA tournament has Stone’s team failed to qualify.
“At the NCAA level where schools get 18 scholarships it’s difficult as an Ivy League team to make the tournament,” Cahow said. “She brings Harvard to the tournament every year. That really says something.”
But Stone's accomplishments reverberate far beyond Harvard. Most recently, she led the United States to the Four Nations Cup title in 2008— its first since 2003—and coached the U18 team to the International Ice Hockey Federation World Championships.
Despite her success at both the collegiate and national levels, Stone has never coached an Olympic squad. After the U.S. team replaced men’s hockey alumnus Ben Smith ’68—who coached the women’s hockey team in its first three trips to the winter Olympics—Stone was one of three finalists to coach the Vancouver squad, but USA Hockey ultimately selected Wisconsin’s head coach Mark Johnson.
Though Stone has never coached an Olympic squad, her influence has been far from absent in the Games. In the inaugural women’s hockey Olympic Championship, two Crimson skaters—A.J. Mleczko ’98-‘98 and Angela Ruggiero ’02-’04—helped the United States take the gold medal in Nagano, while Jennifer Botterill ’02-’03 took silver with Team Canada.
Of the three, Botterill proved to be the most successful in the Olympics. The Canadian went on to follow her Nagano Silver with gold medals in Salt Lake City, Torino, and Vancouver. Sarah Vaillancourt ’08-’09 also made a successful leap from Cambridge to Team Canada, earning gold medals in Torino and Vancouver, while Chu and Cahow have made their mark on Team USA.
In this year’s gold medal game, as in 1998 and 2002, a victory on either side would have brought gold medals to Stone’s former players. Five of those six players won Patty Kazmaier Awards, with Botterill winning the award twice. The sixth, Cahow, came to Cambridge as a third-line forward—but Stone saw in her the makings of a great defenseman.
“I wasn’t necessarily the most talented player,” Cahow said. “She could see that I had a solid work ethic. She saw that I had abilities that weren’t being utilized at the forward position, so she switched me to defense. I fit into the game a lot better.”
By the end of her sophomore year, Cahow’s blue line abilities were enough to earn her a spot on the 2006 U.S. Olympic team.
“She’s able to see those innate things in each player,” Cahow said. “I think that ability to see those things makes her a great visionary and a great coach.”