A coach who demands excellence will push players to perform
In his article “At Harvard, a coach comes under fire” (Page A1, Jan. 29), Bob Hohler reports on what one former member of the Harvard women’s hockey team calls “a culture of complete fear” and bases his article on 16 players’ allegations of abusive behavior by coach Katey Stone. Sixteen student opinions out of hundreds of athletes who have played for Stone over close to three decades do not represent a culture.
Hohler refers to a “tirade” initiated by Stone after a poor performance by her players. Can you name me a coach at the college level who hasn’t chastised players who underperform? This is hardly news. It is characteristic of all coaches who demand excellence and don’t champion mediocrity in their players. The article could lead some readers to assume that female athletes aren’t worthy of tough coaching. I challenge anyone to find a Division 1 coach who hasn’t had an “outburst” that underperforming players may have found “dispiriting.”
If women like Stone, a decorated coach, among the winningest in college women’s hockey, a ground-breaker, are taken down because of a tough coaching style, who would be left to lead our female athletes?
Dr. A. Holly Johnson
The writer was on Katey Stone’s first team at Harvard in 1994-95 and was a team captain, and was team physician for the US Olympic women’s hockey team that Stone coached in 2014. She served as a medical consultant to Harvard Athletics from 2013 to 2018 and is secretary of the board of Friends of Harvard Hockey.
Players will perform better when they’re encouraged and supported
Once again, Bob Hohler has shown us the dark underbelly of so-called educational athletics (“At Harvard, a coach comes under fire”). Given Harvard’s stature as one of the most prestigious universities in the country, it’s all the more surprising that science would be ignored when it comes to sports.
Simply put, behavioral science agrees with the axiom that generally people perform better and learn faster in encouraging, safe, and supportive environments.
So why would any educational institution allow coaches to abuse students? For the wins? Because it’s always been done that way? Whatever the reasons, it’s anti-science.
The writer is the founder of the campaign EndAbusiveCoaching.org.