Listen to any postgame interview with Harvard women’s hockey coach Katey Stone, and you’re bound to notice that two-word phrase pop up somewhere along the way.
There it was after the Beanpot championship game, a 3-2 Crimson victory over formerly unbeaten Boston College. “We’re thrilled with how our kids played,” Stone said, and the two beaming Harvard players next to her echoed the thought.
The phrase can be an endearment, reserved for special occasions such as last Saturday, when the Crimson booked a plane to the Frozen Four with a 5-0 wipe-down of Quinnipiac. “I’m just really proud of our kids today,” Stone said.
But “our kids” has a more general application. It is the substitute for whatever terminology—“our team,” “our girls,” “our women”—that other women’s ice hockey coaches employ. This means that when Stone reflects on a ECAC championship triumph over Cornell by saying, “I thought our kids got a little bit more jam to their game,” she is setting a unique tone that reverberates throughout the Harvard program and, indeed, defines the two-decade career of the coach with the most total victories in Division I women’s ice hockey history…and counting.
For Katey Stone, coaching is, and always has been, a family affair.
Stone’s father, Larry, worked for decades as the athletic director for Taft School in Connecticut. All three of her siblings have pursued similar paths, including her oldest brother Mike, who has amassed over 700 victories as the head coach of the University of Massachusetts baseball team.
"She is one of the most respected coaches ever. That goes for both men's and women's coaches," Harvard co-captain Samantha Reber said.
“It’s sort of the family business,” Stone says. “We’ve all gone into coaching and athletics on some level.”
Although Stone’s choice of profession may appear obvious in retrospect, her choice of sport certainly does not. At the University of New Hampshire, Stone split her years between earning ice hockey honors—two-time ECAC winner, one-time all-ECAC selection—and lacrosse awards—two-time All-American, one-time national champion.
But after a few coaching stays at various high schools, Stone chose the ice rink over the lacrosse field. In 1994, she applied for and received the post of longtime Crimson coach John Dooley. Five seasons later, and ten years after graduating from UNH with a degree in physical education, Stone stood on the awards podium with the 1998-99 Harvard team, waiting to celebrate the Crimson’s first and only national championship.
Despite the speed of her ascent, Harvard players insist that Stone maintains a down-to-earth coaching philosophy.
“[In practice] she’s just the same old coach Stone that anyone else sees,” co-captain Samantha Reber said. “She knows when to have fun, but she [also] knows when we need to be serious and focus on the right things.”
After twenty years of collegiate experience, Stone has had the opportunity to apply this demeanor to a long list of national squads, including the American team at the 2014 Winter Olympics. That year, Team USA earned a silver medal after an overtime loss to Canada.