Allegations of Brutal Culture Hit Harvard Women's Hockey

The Athletic explores 'mental health Hunger Games' of coach Katey Stone
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 12, 2023 6:36 AM CDT
Allegations of Brutal Culture Hit Harvard Women's Hockey
In this 2014 file photo, USA head coach Katey Stone talks to the team during a game at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.   (AP Photo/J. David Ake)

Katey Stone is the winningest coach in women's college hockey, having racked up more than 500 victories in her 27 seasons at Harvard. But a story at the Athletic suggests the 56-year-old Stone has cultivated a toxic culture, with the parent of one recent player describing it as a "mental-health Hunger Games." Reporters Hailey Salvian and Katie Strang talk to players who say that Stone likes to keep players "on edge," and one way is "to create two factions, one comprised of Stone’s favorites and the other the players she disliked or disregarded." The favored camp had to report on the daily activities of the non-favored camp. The story also details activities that sound like hazing—a "naked skate" for freshmen, skits about players' sexual orientation, pressure to drink heavily on "Freshman Fun Night," etc.

The story notes that Stone herself did not appear to play a direct role in the initiation events, though it quotes her as frequently saying, "There’s not a single thing on this team that goes on that I don’t know about.” The story makes clear that Stone has lots of defenders among former players. An observation on that front made by the writers: The "most vocal and public of her defenders are players from her first decade as coach, and the women who have put their names on allegations against her are predominantly from teams in the last decade." The Athletic piece echoes similar criticisms of Stone, who chose not to comment, made in a Boston Globe story earlier this year. The latter story accused Stone of making a crack about the team having "too many chiefs and not enough Indians" in front of two players of Indigenous descent. Concerns about the team have been brought to school officials at least four times in the last six years, per the Athletic. Read the full story. (More women's sports stories.)

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