When Harvard women’s hockey coach Katey Stone earned her 500th win Saturday, a sense of relief came over her.
“Honestly, it was good to get it over with,” said Stone.
Stone, the longest-tenured active coach in Division 1, isn’t one for accolades, though there have been many since she arrived at Harvard in 1994. She served as head coach of the 2014 United States Olympic team, has won 11 Beanpot titles and six ECAC championships, and has brought the Crimson to the Frozen Four six times. This past summer, she won USA Hockey’s Distinguished Achievement Award for all that she’s given to the sport.
On Saturday, Stone’s Harvard squad rebounded from a Friday loss to Yale to dominate Brown, 5-2, in Providence, notching win 500. She became the third coach of a women’s team, and the first female coach, to reach the mark. (Mike Sisti of Mercyhurst and Wisconsin’s Mark Johnson are the other two.)
“It’s a great credit to all the players and coaches I’ve worked with along the way,” said Stone. “It provided a really nice opportunity with my current team in the locker room to talk about the history of the program.”
The history of women’s college hockey has Harvard written all through it. The Crimson have had six Patty Kazmaier Award winners and 14 Olympians representing three nations.
Though Stone’s first few years at the helm were bumpy, her 1998-99 team showed what was possible, going 33-1 and winning games with goal totals of 10, 11, and 14 along the way. For three consecutive years, 2003-05, Harvard was the national runner-up, and in the first eight seasons the NCAA sponsored a national women’s tournament, Harvard made it all but one of those times.
It’s not just Harvard that has benefited from Stone’s leadership. Just as the NFL has the Bill Belichick coaching tree, there is a large Katey Stone coaching tree as well. Her players and assistants who have branched off credit Stone for their career paths.
“I am a coach because of her,” said current Minnesota-Duluth associate head coach Laura Bellamy, who backstopped the Crimson in goal from 2009-13. “The impact she had on me was so profound, all I wanted to do when I left Harvard was have the same effect on others that she had on me.”
Stone enjoys the mentorship that coaching provides her.
“It’s an honor to have an opportunity to share four, sometimes more, years with them,” said Stone. “I enjoy seeing them develop into strong and capable women.”
Though Stone’s high expectations are no secret, you will rarely see her raise her voice on the bench to her players.
“One of my favorite aspects of Coach Stone’s coaching style that is rare today and hardly ever gets the recognition it deserves — she hardly, if ever, yells or swears to make a point,” said Bellamy. “And that’s because she doesn’t have to. Her presence transcends those rote communication strategies.”
At 6-3, this year’s Crimson have potential thanks to a veteran core that Stone credits for much of the team’s early success. Senior Becca Gilmore has six goals and five assists, and junior Anne Bloomer has scored in Harvard’s last five games.
“That group of veterans was off the ice for 18 months [because the 2020-21 season was canceled], and they were itching to get back on the ice,” said Stone.
Whether they are veterans or newcomers, Stone will tell them all what she has told many teams over her 27 years in Cambridge: You must be prepared for every game.
“You have to be ready for it every night, or you’re going to get stung,” said Stone.
Last Wednesday, the NCAA Competition Oversight Committee decided to expand the women’s Division 1 tournament from eight to 11 teams. The odd number is to bring it into percentage equity with the men’s tournament, which advances 26.7 percent of 60 teams to the tournament (16 teams). It has yet to be decided whether this change will take place for the 2022 tournament, which starts in March, or will be held off until 2023 … With two wins this past weekend at Vermont, Northeastern is still unbeaten through nine games. Maureen Murphy has been the Huskies’ powerhouse, with 19 points, leading both her team and Hockey East. The graduate student became the first two-time winner of the league’s Player of the Week award this season.