Katey Stone will be head coach of US program for 2010/11 season. She gave Winih a state of the nation interview on July 1, 2010.
Q. You have a busy year ahead for 2010/11. Will you continue to coach at Harvard?
A. Yes. The only tough time will be around 4 Nations Cup in November. For example the worlds next year is later than usual, it starts April 16th so it won’t be conflict. The college championship ends around March 20th.
Q. What kinds of changes have you seen in your 16 years in college hockey.
A. I also coached 6 years of high school. The level of talent is higher and number of skilled players is greater. When I started there was a small pool of kids and even smaller at the elite academic schools. Kids coming in now are better than seniors. There is a huge differences in their strength and conditioning. US colleges have made an investment in the game in the last five years.
Unfortunately in the US women are still fighting for stature in our sport. If you are a young female coach it is difficult on many fronts/financially/family/compared to a guy with experience in men’s hky. Few opportunities exist for female coaches. I think it is getting worse. There are only 7 female coaches out of 36 teams, the number has declined in last five years. The reasons are a combination of things. Life style is tough and draining. I think athletic directors need to feel there are capable women they would hire over a capable man, but that doesn’t happen. Very few women apply for male coaching jobs but men have a chance to apply for women’s position. It is tough. I would compare it to women’s basketball. We are 15 years behind them, what they went thru and what we are experiencing now.
Q. What do you want to accomplish this year with the US program?
A. Well I am interested in winning, always one of my goals. This is a transition year. A chance to get a feel for me for players. Having a year with players is a good model; it is important to have close interaction with the kids. I need to find out who is going to commit themselves for the future…players live with pain through the Olympics…this will be a year find out who is capable and committed. I also want to develop the young great talent we have. There has to be an emphasis on youth. I am anxious for the younger players to compete at a higher level. We are far enough out (from the Olympics) to identify strengths and weaknesses. So it is a pivotal year; a chance to try some new personalities and see how it all fits.
Q. What happened to US team at the Olympics? The expectation was a gold medal.
A. I think like everyone else in the US, it was disappointing, Canada had a tremendous team. From Turin to Vancouver there were so many positives for USA hockey, in the program and development but this is still more to do. My hat is off to Canada, they played so well and unfortunately it comes down to one game…
If I had been there, I could answer that question better.
Q. What do younger players need? Most coaches say more games are needed for the Under 18 group.
A. I agree completely that the Under 18 age group need more competition. The championship in Chicago disappointeded me. I was in Calgary in 2008 for first one. I was discouraged by the atmosphere, it didn’t’ feel like a world championship. It felt more like national or club setting. Calgary was crazy and exciting…. Getting that excitement is huge. I did think the skill levels keep getting better…talent pool is superior sooner in system, plus there is better conditioning and understanding the game.
I think a player is quite fortunate if they have good coaching in high school, often you are the best player on team. I would say yes, to having an 8 Nations Cup for the Under 18 category. It would be great. There are countries struggling with fewer players. It would also be great to be able to talk with coaches from other countries. We all have to help each other.
Q. What did you think about Jacques Rogge’s comments on women’s hockey at 2010 Olympics?
A. It is scary but instead of being afraid, what are we going to do, collectively to help the game? We talked at our US college convention. We need to invite people to come and speak and share ideas about hockey. We are coaching so many of international players probably 25 or more. If we are coaching their players why aren’t we being inclusive with coaches? College hockey helps the level of their game.
I think 5-10 years down the road, we need to open up our association to club teams/other federations and also developing scholarships to let players play. Also we need to share ideas but this is not going to happen over nite. Sometimes I think people are afraid to grow. Next year, we are getting people involved who could facilitate some of these things happening. We need an executive director, right now our president and vice president are coaches. So we are working on hiring an executive director. Women’s college hockey has grown so much in 15 years to become a large body coaching women’s hockey. We need to grow our administration as well.
Q. How should the 20th anniversary of the international game be celebrated?
A. I think any time you have a milestone it is important to bring recognition to what ever you decide is important. There are so many ambassadors of women’s hockey. They are advocates of sport and tremendous hockey players. Celebrate them. For example, Canada’s France St. Louis, every body adored her. And after Vancouver some careers may be ending for some key players. I have always felt, leadership is less about wins and more about people.
Q. Tell Winih’s readers why Canada and USA are so successful and the rest of the world is so far behind.
A. Financial resources. Canada and US put behind the national teams and the number of players to chose from. Right there North America has a distinct advantage…sheer numbers…/available coaches …so many people passionate and capable. There is a lot of momentum. I am not sure those numbers are not that high in other countries.
Also how women are treated in the game. I have strong feelings about this area. For example for Russia or the Czech teams, winning is everything; there is no measure of success, if you don’t win…all is lost. It is important for young athletes to measure success but not with the attitude “if they didn’t’ win they failed. These young players are developing both emotionally and physically… if a young woman feels good about playing then it was a great experience. They competed as hard as they could and they will want to stay in the game. If you don’t have the great experience, why play? Women play for all the right reasons…no NHL for them; it is the experience with team-mates. And everyone wants to get better. How they are treated among teammates. It is a very significant factor in the women’s game.
The farther away from competition the more valuable the education. Men and women are like apples and oranges in terms of coaching. In the US college game women need to make sure at end of day they have an education. Women also play for camaraderie, different people, distinct differences in attitude, you are missing out if you think you can coach women like men.
Q. Would you like to see a women’s world hockey summit?
A. That would be great. It would be a way to impart some of those differences in the game. You can’t do it at a competition, it is not the place. You have got to be in an environment where people want to share and are not territorial.