Women’s hockey pioneer Kendall Coyne Schofield leads new … – Northeastern University

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Women’s hockey pioneer Kendall Coyne Schofield leads new inductees into the Northeastern Athletics Hall of Fame

“She’s the most dynamic player I’ve ever seen,” Northeastern coach Dave Flint says of Coyne Schofield, who heads a class of eight athletes and teams at the induction ceremony Thursday.

Kendall Coyne posing in her hockey gear

Kendall Coyne Schofield — a women’s hockey pioneer of speed, skill and ambition — will be inducted into the Northeastern Athletics Hall of Fame on Thursday as one of the greatest players in the history of her sport.

“She’s the most dynamic player I’ve ever seen in women’s hockey,” Northeastern coach Dave Flint says of Coyne Schofield, who has won an Olympic gold medal and a half-dozen world championships while pioneering opportunities for women athletes. As a Northeastern senior she earned the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award as the top player in women’s college hockey.

Those triumphs adorn her career with a sense of destiny, as though they were all meant to be. But that’s not how it would have felt for Coyne Schofield when Flint recruited her to Northeastern in 2011. There were no guarantees of success in those promising yet uncertain years when she was pushing herself to elevate the women’s hockey program while pursuing two Northeastern degrees in addition to a co-op, two campus jobs and a relationship with her future husband, the NFL offensive lineman Michael Schofield

That’s what makes this ceremony all the more meaningful for her, as she looks back on all that her best efforts have wrought.

“I wouldn’t be who I am today without my experiences at Northeastern,” says Coyne Schofield, 31, who gave birth to her first child, Drew, in July. “I’m extremely honored.”

Coyne Schofield will be honored alongside seven other athletes and teams at the induction ceremony at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Blackman Auditorium (tickets can be purchased here).

Her NHL breakthrough

Coyne Schofield grew up in suburban Chicago as a prodigy, committing herself to a career of promise and hard work. She played or practiced with boys into her late teens, at first because there were no other options and later while pursuing difficult environments that would squeeze the best from her. She was selected for U.S. national teams years ahead of the normal schedule, which forced her to learn many things the hard way while competing with stronger and more experienced teammates and opponents.

Speed has been her greatest advantage.

“Every time she has the puck on her stick, you get out of your seat, like, OK, what’s she going to do now?” Flint says. “Your eye goes to her on the ice and you’re just waiting for something great to happen.”

As a last-minute replacement in the 2019 NHL All-Star fastest skater competition, 5-foot-2-inch Coyne Schofield became the first woman to compete in the league’s skills challenge — and finished less than a half-second out of fourth place in the field of seven NHL stars. That breakthrough was highlighted by tennis Hall-of-Famer and social justice champion Billie Jean King in her foreword to Coyne Schofeld’s 2022 autobiography, “As Fast As Her.”

“You think about that pressure that was put on her on a national stage,” Flint says of Coyne’s inspiring NHL performance. “Millions of people watching, including some who probably felt women shouldn’t be playing professional sports. They were probably hoping that she fell down. 

“And then she goes out there and she just nailed it. The look on all the NHL guys’ faces on the bench was priceless. And then the next guy that went after her fell down because he was so nervous. He was like, how am I going to top that?”

‘She thankfully decided to stay’

As the leader of a nine-player freshman class that would transform women’s hockey at Northeastern, Coyne Schofield’s arrival was not universally celebrated. In the first weeks of practice her wrist was broken by a slashing teammate. “It wasn’t tied to a fierce battle in the corner,” Coyne Schofield writes in her autobiography. “To me, it was because a teammate was envious of my abilities and playing time.”

“That goes back to our culture,” says Flint, the national coach of the year two of the past three seasons. “The upperclassmen thought that there should be this hierarchy where they rule the roost. There were players that were threatened by her because she was instantly the best player on the team.

“Those days are long gone. Now we’ve created a culture where everybody is welcome on day one — everybody’s family and everybody’s equal. And that has made a big difference for us.”

The transformation wasn’t easy. Though the Huskies would win both Beanpots (ending a 14-year drought) as well as their first Hockey East regular-season championship while going 45-18-6 over her first two seasons, Coyne Schofield nonetheless called Flint before her sophomore year and said team culture needed to change. 

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