May 22, 2014

Lifestyles: Katey Stone's Blades of Steel

by Phil Shore | | Twitter

Former New Hampshire lacrosse star Katey Stone coached Team USA in Russia this past Olympics. (USA Hockey)

The first woman in history to coach the U.S. Olympic hockey team, and the winningest coach in NCAA Division I women’s hockey history, also played lacrosse in college.

Katey Stone, who led the U.S. this past winter in Sochi, Russia, was a two-sport athlete and helped New Hampshire win its only NCAA championship — in lacrosse or any other sport —  in 1985. Stone has 402 wins in 19 seasons as the hockey coach at Harvard, leading the Crimson to five Frozen Fours, but she hasn’t stopped following her other stick sport.

How was your experience coaching in the Olympics?

It was great and devastating all at once. (In the gold medal game, the U.S. squandered a 2-0 lead and lost to Canada 3-2 in overtime.) I was proud to represent our country and coach a magnificent group of women. We had a great team. I felt we were prepared. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the result we wanted. But it doesn’t detract from those that were involved in the program and what it was to be a part of it.

Off the ice, the coolest part about the experience was going to some of the other events and being a part of the whole experience and meeting other athletes from other countries. It was seeing how the Russian people supported the Olympics and did such a tremendous job hosting the event.

How did you get your start coaching ice hockey?

I was coaching after college at a prep school (Tabor Academy in Marion, Mass.). The Harvard job came open. I learned about that from two of my players. I decided to apply for the job and was fortunate to get it. It’s hard to say no to Harvard. I coached both hockey and lacrosse in high school. I love hockey. When you get a job at Harvard at 28 years old, it’s tough to pass up.

What is a typical in-season day for you at Harvard?

Usually we have practice in the afternoon. I work out in the morning and head into the office. I work on recruiting and meetings with my staff and plan practice. The best time is practice and spending time with my players pre- and post-practice. The days go by kind of fast during the season.

What does it mean to you to be the winningest coach in NCAA Division I women’s hockey?

I’m really proud of that. There’s been a lot of hard work and a lot of great players that have gone into that. It’s not something you just become one day. You have to be consistent every day. That’s been a goal of mine, to be consistent and just do as well as you can.

How are you able to relate your lacrosse-playing career to your coaching career?

This article originally appears in the June 2014 issue of Lacrosse Magazine. Start your subscription today by joining US Lacrosse!

Lacrosse is a fantastic game. You can learn so much. Strategically, there are so many pieces of a lacrosse game that are relevant to hockey. I had great coaches. Some of the biggest lessons I learned are that you can work your tail off and enjoy yourself at the same time, and you’ll probably have a better product if you have both. It’s OK to have high standards, but it’s important to have balance in what you’re doing.

When did you start playing lacrosse?

I didn’t start until I went to high school. They didn’t have it as a youth sport growing up. I went to a private school (Taft School in Watertown, Conn.) my parents worked at and they had it, so I started playing in ninth grade.

What are your thoughts on recruiting the multiple-sport athletes?

I’m a big believer in multi-sport athletes for so many reasons. One, particularly for women: There’s so much to gain from giving kids the opportunity to play multiple sports and be coached by different people. It gives you different perspectives and different skills and different anticipation. I tell players, no one is ever going to make a million dollars playing ice hockey and lacrosse, so you should play what you like to play as long as you can. If someone can maintain their academics and play two sports in college, I think that’s awesome.

Do you ever attend any Harvard games or watch lacrosse on television?

I try to watch when I can. Unfortunately, spring catches up on you quickly. But I try to catch a Harvard game when I’m in town. I love it. I watch it on TV. I watch the national championships. It’s a great game. I miss it.

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