KATHY DELANEY-SMITH AND KATEY STONE
Harvard was founded in 1636–386 years ago–as Harvard College.
The private Ivy League research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts was named for its first benefactor, the Puritan clergyman, John Harvard.
It is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States, and among the most prestigious in the world.
With a rich history spanning the better part of four centuries, much ground has been covered and much has changed.
Harvard began playing football in 1873, making its program one of the oldest ever.
Princeton and Rutgers played college football’s first game in 1869.
November 6, 1869: Rutgers 6-Princeton 4.
Michigan began competing in 1879.
The Princeton-Yale rivalry is the oldest in college football, dating back to 1873.
Those two dominated the college football scene back then.
Yale claimed 13 national titles outright and Princeton 8, between 1869 and 1894.
Of course, that was then.
And as we all struggle to live in the moment, this is now.
The Ivy League was founded in 1954 and its name sprung from the alliance between its original four [IV] member schools, Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Penn.
Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth and Brown rounded out what was to be known as the Ancient Eight.
And, make no mistake, plenty of professional athletes–and Olympians–of all stripes have Ivy League pedigrees.
[Since 1896 Harvard has been represented at every Olympic Games, with a total of 223 participants–athletes, coaches and administrators–representing 14 countries and 344 events.]
There are others: Bill Tilden, James Blake, Moe Berg, Brad Ausmus, Mark DeRosa, Ross Ohlendorf, Doug Glanville, James “Orator” O’Rourke, Jim McMillian, Geoff Petrie, Chris Dudley, Dick Jauron, Jay Fiedler, Reggie Williams, Ed Marinaro, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ted Donato, George Parros, Paul Stewart, Chris Higgins and Craig Adams.
Lest we forget, former Baseball Commissioners Fay Vincent and Bart Giamatti or longtime hockey executives Brian Burke and Peter Chiarelli.
Perhaps not pro athletes, but high-level executives of the first order.
With respect to the Olympics, 91 past, present and future Ivies competed in the 2020 Tokyo Games.
The Ivy League has had its share of legendary coaches too.
As an example, Bill Cleary ’56, whose name is synonymous with Harvard hockey–and the 1956 & 1960 Winter Olympics–ran an insurance company with his younger brother Bob, and moonlighted as a Division I college hockey coach.
324–201–22 in 19 seasons through 1990, including the 1989 NCAA title.
Jack Barnaby ’32, was the most successful coach in Harvard history.
A tennis and squash coach, he was the “John Wooden of racquet sports,” and he bore a rather uncanny facial resemblance to ‘The Wizard of Westwood.’
In his 42 years of coaching, Barnaby’s squads racked up 745 victories; 17 national squash championships; and 16 Ivy League flags.
His overall squash record was an astonishing 346–95, representing an incomprehensible .785 winning percentage.
John Yoviscin, Harry Parker, Joe Restic, Tim Murphy, Bill McCurdy, Cooney Weiland, Carole Kleinfelder, Jenny Allard, Dave Fish, Liz O’Leary, Jennifer Weiss, Jay Weiss, Charley Butts, J. Bruce Munro…
And in fairness, other Ivy schools rightfully tout their own coaching titans.
Bob Blackman, Pete Carril, Carm Cozza, Al Bagnoli, Chuck Daly, Bob Weinhauer, Fran Dunphy, James Jones, Bob Seddon, John Stuper, Steve Donahue, Brett Boretti, Tommy Amaker [H], Tim Taylor, Herb Hammond, Ronn Tomassoni [H].
So without further adieu, please welcome Kathy Delaney-Smith and Katey Stone–speaking of coaching luminaries–who assume their well-deserved position(s) in the pantheon of Ivy greats, and far beyond.
Delaney-Smith, retiring at season’s end after 40 campaigns, is the Harvard women’s basketball head coach, and Stone is the Crimson women’s hockey head coach of 27 years…and counting.
They are icons, pure and simple.
Delaney-Smith, 66, has been the Harvard coach since 1982 and has compiled a record of 617–420 (.595) overall, and 360–164 (.687) in the Ivy League.
At the start, this was a highly unlikely happenstance for a woman who never even played basketball in college.
Although she was the first female in Massachusetts high school history to score 1,000 career points at Sacred Heart High School (Newton, MA.), she matriculated at Bridgewater State which did not have a varsity basketball team for women at the time.
So she swam instead.
On the synchronized swimming team–the only competitive option for females there.
Upon graduation from Bridgewater, she applied for a position as a teacher and swim coach at Westwood High School, which had just constructed a new swimming pool.
She interviewed with the school superintendent whose daughter played on the basketball team.
He shared that the girls’ team was “terrible.”
“Can you coach them and can you win?”
She said ‘yes,’ and the rest has been etched in stone.
Her start at Harvard was inauspicious.
18–47 in her first three seasons.
And three last-place finishes in the Ivies.
Since then, nothing but great success.
Three Ivy League championships in 1986, 1988 and 1991.
First NCAA Tournament invite in 1996.
Losing to Vanderbilt, the Crimson hit 16 3-pointers in the game, a record that had been tied but not exceeded, as of 2017–a 21-year span.
In 1997 they again won the Ivy League title, posting a 14–0 record–Harvard women’s first ever undefeated conference season.
They lost to North Carolina in the tournament.
Then there was 1998.
Ivy League champs (23–5; 12–2).
In the NCAAs they were seeded last–16th–in their bracket.
They traveled west to play top-seed Stanford on the Lady Cardinal home court.
Harvard won 71–67.
It represented the only time a #16 seed had beaten a #1 seed in an NCAA women’s tournament game.
(In 2018 the feat was matched by the men, when UMBC toppled Virginia).
It was 2014 when Delaney-Smith reached another milestone.
Harvard beat Yale 69–65, giving her (Ivy) career win 515.
She pushed aside–a gentle nudge–Princeton men’s coach, the lovable gnome Pete Carril, for the most wins ever by an Ivy League basketball coach.
In March 2019, she won her 600th game as an NCAA Division 1 head coach.
She is one of four active head coaches to spend 39 years–40 soon–at the same Division I institution.
Katey Stone is one of the most successful and decorated coaches in the history of Division I women’s ice hockey.
The Landry Family Head Coach for the Harvard Crimson women joined the program prior to the 1994–5 season.
Stone had piled up 494 victories prior to the start of the 2021-’22 season–her 27th at the helm– and was the third coach in women’s college hockey annals to record 300 wins.
One of the most highly regarded coaches in women’s hockey, Stone has guided and mentored 24 All-Americans; 6 Patty Kazmaier selections, (honoring the top player in women’s college hockey); and 13 Olympians.
She led her teams to 6 ECAC Tournament Championships; 11 Beanpot titles; 12 NCAA Tournament appearances in the event’s 21-year history; 6 Frozen Fours; 4 NCAA Title games; and an AWCHA (American Women’s College Hockey Alliance) National Championship.
In 2014-’15 Stone piloted Harvard to its best season in five years, reaching the NCAA National Championship game against the University of Minnesota.
Finishing as the runner-up (Minnesota 4-Harvard 1), the campaign was nonetheless nothing short of remarkable.
27–6–3; Beanpot champ; Ivy champ; and ECAC Regular Season and Tournament champ.
The 2013-’14 season marked the first time that Stone was not behind the Crimson bench since 1994-’95, as she served as the head coach of the United States Olympic Women’s Ice Hockey team at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
As the first-ever female head coach of a USA hockey team in the Olympics, she steered the Americans to a silver medal, losing in the gold medal game against arch-rival Canada, 3–2 in OT.
Prior to Sochi there were other USA international successes under Stone.
Gold at the 2013 IIHF Women’s World Championships; in 2012 and 2011 in the same venue, gold and silver respectively.
She has guided the Americans in 5 Four Nations Cups, including leading Uncle Sam’s own to gold in 2008, 2011 and 2012.
In addition to three consecutive NCAA title game appearances (2003-’05); ECAC Hockey regular season titles (2003-’05); and ECAC Hockey Tournament titles (2004-’06), she posted the only back-to-back 30-win seasons in Harvard program history from 2002–2004 (30–3–1, 30–4–1).
During the 2002-’03 season, Harvard was ranked #1 in the national polls for 14 straight weeks.
So what have you done for me lately, Katey?
These pioneering mentors and superlative coaches deserve more attention and greater accolades.
They’ve earned that in spades.
Especially from me.
[Editor’s Note: This piece was written by Mr. Kaplan in March 2022.]