Women's Ice Hockey Coach Katie King Reflects on U.S. Endeavors
May 4, 2005
This week the Athletics Department features women's ice hockey assistant coach Katie King, who helped lead the women's ice hockey team with Head Coach Tom Mutch to its first playoff berth in the Hockey East Conference. King played on the 2005 World Championship U.S. Women's National Team in April and played for the 1998 gold medal-winning U.S. Olympic Team and the 2002 silver medal-winning squad.
Q: In your second season on the coaching staff, what brought about such marked improvement this year, as the team finished fourth in the Hockey East?
A: I think there was a definitely a combination of things. We brought in 10 new kids, which was obviously a huge impact to our team. The leadership that the older kids gave us was tremendous. To see the way they gave 110% everyday when they came to practice and went into the weight room really made the team better. The younger kids followed them, and that was a great thing to see this year.
Q: Having reached the Hockey East playoffs for the first time in the program's history, what do you see for the future of the women's ice hockey program at Boston College?
A: I see nothing but good things. We have tried to bring in kids who will help the program, and we have great kids in the program now. So, the improvement from last year to this year was tremendous, and hopefully we will keep improving on that line. I think that we'll do very well next year, but it will be a tough year. Nothing comes easily, and that is something which all the girls must know. We had a huge improvement from last year to this year, so maybe the improvement will not be as big. We still want to see more improvement. It will be fun, I do know that.
Q: Talk a little bit about Sarah Carlson. It's well known that she earned All-Hockey East and All-New England honors. She also captured the prestigious Humanitarian Award. What more can you tell us about Sarah?
A: Sarah is unbelievable. She really is an inspiration to many kids around the area, from high school kids to college kids to women's hockey players to people who want to be in the nursing program. Like I told her at the end of the year, she was an inspiration to me. To watch a kid work as hard as she worked was awesome. She is such a great kid to be around. She is a great leader for our team and for Boston College. She really does it right. When she does something, she does it right.
Q: Without slighting anyone else on the team, can you talk about the impact Deborah Spillane had in her first year at BC? Deb earned All-Rookie Team honors as well as All-League second-team honors.
A: Deb did a great job for us. Last year, one thing we had been lacking was an offensive threat. I think that Deb provided that not only for us, but for her linemates. She helped other people get points, score goals, or whatever it might be. That's what she helped out tremendously. Offensively, she has got great creativity. The way she sees the ice is great. She knows what she is going to do with it or where she is going to go with it to make an opening for her teammates. Her impact has been great, and for her rookie year to do what she did, she obviously has a couple of years to match that or hopefully do better than that. I definitely think that she has that in her. She works hard, and to have somebody like Sarah Carlson or Kerri Sanders to look up to and watch them as hard as they work, she can only gain from something like that.
Q: Less than one month ago, on April 9, you helped lead the U.S. Women's National Team to its first-ever gold medal at the 2005 International Ice Hockey Federation Women's World Championship in Linkoping, Sweden, after defeating Canada, 1-0. What was it like to be part of the history victory?
A: It was a little bit of a relief. I played in five before that, and every year was a tough battle. It was always us and Canada in the final. We knew that going into it, if everything had worked out that we would play them in the final. It was awesome. We played really, really well, especially in that last game. To finally win a world championship was something that we have all been itching at. It was amazing, and we had a great time. It was fun, and I have to say that it's hard to describe because with the world championships we had been waiting for it for so long.
Q: In the 4-1 semifinal round victory over Sweden on April 8, you scored the third of your team's four unanswered goals, as the U.S. team overcame a 1-0 deficit. Talk about how you felt as you inched your team closer to the championship game.
A: It was great. I felt pretty good in that game, and we knew that Sweden would be a tough match for us. First off, we were in Sweden so it was their home country. It's the semifinals, and every final has been us and Canada. Sweden and Finland are edging to get into that game. We had beat Finland, 8-1, and Canada had beat Sweden 10-0. Both us and Canada knew that Sweden and Finland in the semifinals was going to be tough. Going into that game, we knew that we had to step up our play and come to the rink ready to go. To score that goal was great. I try to do everything I can for our team to win. It was a relief to be up by two goals at that point. It's hard in those games to not look past them and to not look towards playing Canada.
Q: Certainly no stranger to the international stage of ice hockey, you've been a part of two Olympic teams. Having won a gold medal in 1998 and a silver medal in 2002, what have your Olympic experiences meant to you?
A: 1998 was unbelievable. All 20 of us were new to the Olympics, because that was the first-ever U.S. women's Olympic hockey team. It was such an eye-opener for all of us because everything was new. You had no idea what to expect when you walked out your door, whether it was who you were going to see around the campus or who you would run into in the cafeteria or what the experience on the ice would be like. Obviously, we came out on top in those Olympics and won the gold medal. Having never been to Japan before, it was awesome to see the people over there. I feel like it's a broken record that I'm not saying anything bad about it, but truly it was an unbelievable experience. Four years later, we were in Salt Lake City, which was in our home country. That was amazing as well. Despite the fact that we won the silver medal, it was still awesome. The team was a little different because half of us had been there [in 1998] and half had not. Some knew what to expect, and some did not know what to expect. But, it still was an overall great experience. The last game was a tough one. We had some illnesses and stuff like that, but you can't worry about that kind of stuff. We just didn't win in the end. Whenever we play against Canada it's always a battle. I think that in every major tournament, it is foreseen that we will play Canada in the final. Every time we get to a semifinal, we tell ourselves not to focus on Canada yet. Through the whole tournament, we have to focus on one game at a time. That's what we will try to do as we head toward these next Olympics.
Q: From your hockey experiences in annual IIHF tournaments to the Olympics to your four years of hockey at Brown University, which moment sticks out as the most special?
A: I have to say the 1998 Olympics, not just because we won the gold medal but because that was just an amazing situation. Those 20 people were there because they loved the game and there was nothing else that they wanted to do. It wasn't for the money or the notoriety. But it was exactly for the pure love of hockey. Not that it has changed so much now, but a little bit it has. I look back to some of those players who now are married and have children, and people did give up a lot of years of their life to play for that team. It was just a special situation, and I look at that and say that it was one of the greatest moments for me in sports, not that it puts down any other moments.
Q: How have you been able to incorporate your experiences with the U.S. Women's National Team in coaching hockey at Boston College?
A: I have learned so much from being on those teams, just in the sport of hockey itself, which I feel I can pass that onto the players here at Boston College. Also, just telling them about my experiences comes out as the season comes. I hope all of them can take something from my experiences. I hope that at some point in the future these players will be on an Olympic team and can come back and tell me about their experiences in these situations. And eventually, I think that could be a possibility for us. Hopefully I can get them so that maybe they can follow in my footsteps to be there some day.
Q: Finally, having played hockey at the highest level of women's ice hockey and now also being involved with the sports as a coach, can you comment on the sport's emergence over the past several years? And where do you think it can and will go from here?
A: First of all, since I was in college until now, there are a lot more college teams. At that time, there was just the ECAC and it was from 10 to 14 teams, at the most. Now, it is huge. There are all the different divisions, which is just great. To see the growth at a young level is awesome, too. When I was playing on club teams, there weren't as many teams as there are now. I travel all over the country to watch girls play, and it's great to know that the sport is growing that much. I think that it will only go up. As more kids start playing, the talent pool grows bigger. As that happens, more college teams will start getting better. Kids are realizing that women's hockey is a great sport.
Later this week, the Athletics Department will feature baseball's starting catcher, Shawn McGill. In his junior campaign, McGill has helped drive the baseball program to a 33-14 overall record and has kept the Eagles in the running for the Big East Tournament Championship.