What USports’ newest coach brings to the table — Q&A with Stefanie McKeough — Must-click women’s hockey links

The IX: Hockey Friday with The Ice Garden, Aug. 4, 2023

Happy Friday! It’s Simon Hopkins with The Ice Garden. In today’s edition of the newsletter, we’re bringing you a Q&A with new University of Ottawa head coach Stefanie McKeough, as well as this week’s must-click links. Let’s start with this week’s top stories:

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Harvard hires Laura Bellamy as head coach — New England Hockey Journal

Laura Bellamy will leave the Duluth bench for Harvard this season. The women’s hockey program at Harvard has needed a coach since the departure of their head coach amid allegations of player mistreatment. Evan Marinofsky has the story.

Japan continues to send players abroad — The Hockey News

The Japanese national team has become one of the most exciting to watch in international women’s hockey. Young talent has led the group to impressive performances at tournaments over the last five years. Ian Kennedy highlights some of the biggest stars from Japan who are taking their hockey careers to the next level and signing in major professional leagues around the world.

What we’re hearing about the new women’s pro hockey league — The Athletic

From no news to major news to silence once again. The announcement that PHF was bought out and the PWHPA was to form a new league was an explosion of change after very little clarity on the state of the two organizations. Even though few concrete details about the league-to-be have made headlines, Hailey Salvian reports on everything that has been happening in the last month.

Brittany Howard developing hockey’s next generation — The Hockey News

Brittany Howard is a great human. In this article, Ian kennedy features Howard’s commitment to coaching the next generation of stars.

Liz Knox on negotiating the new PWHLPA CBA for the working player — The Victory Press

Negotiations for a player-league deal have begun. Liz Knox opens up extensively with Zoë Hayden about the process and what she’s fighting for. Check out this interview for Knox’s thoughts on the process.

24/7 women’s soccer coverage with The Equalizer

The IX is partnering with The Equalizer to bring more women’s sports stories to your inbox. Subscribers to The IX receive 50% off their subscription to The Equalizer for 24/7 coverage of women’s soccer.

The University of Ottawa Gee-Gees promote Stefanie McKeough to head coach — Q&A

Stefanie McKeough will take over the bench at the University of Ottawa from her former boss, Chelsea Grills. The uOttawa Gee-Gees play in the RSEQ division of USports — Canada’s university sports association.

McKeough was an assistant coach for three seasons before her promotion last week. The former defender was an extremely successful college player with the Wisconsin Badgers. Our conversation largely revolved around coaching and uOttawa, but I couldn’t help but ask about that team.

The Ice Garden: You played at Wisconsin on one of the best college hockey teams of all time with a national championship in 2011 — what were those seasons like?

Stefanie McKeough: Fun! I don’t know if we realized how good we were or if that was a focus. We went to the rink every day and practices were real competitive. Everybody wanted to compete every day and with that team we had amazing leaders. We just focused on how we could all continue to get better and that lead to the outcome in 2011.

TIG: You were coached by Mark Johnson in Wisconsin. What did you learn from Coach Johnson as a player and is there anything you want to emulate from him in Ottawa?

SM: One of the things about him and the rest of the bench is that they’re all fantastic humans. From the minute you were recruited to playing and post playing, I had the opportunity to use them as resources because of the relationship we were able to build.

One thing I took away is that sometimes, simplicity is best, and it needs to be really focused. We would have practices that were maximum one hour but friends at other schools had practices that were 2.5 hours. You can do simple things but if you work hard and do them effectively, you can accomplish a lot with drive and buy-in.

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TIG: The dynamic in RSEQ has changed dramatically in the last few years. How do you approach a season with change on a lot of the other teams?

SM: Just trying to focus on ourselves. There is so much to focus on in a hockey game. You have to respect every team you play but I think the key is focusing on yourself and what our group is capable of, what we need to work on, and then learn from the other teams and adjust as the season goes on.

TIG: You were an assistant coach before becoming the head coach. What do you want to bring forward from what was built at uOttawa under Coach Grills?

SM: I think the biggest thing is the culture. One of the first things she said when recruiting was that talent gets you on the radar, character gets you on the roster. That was the first big thing she taught me, and I know the staff and players really appreciate that.

TIG: The GeeGees have come very close to making it to the national tournament in the last two seasons. What is your team going to get over that hump this year?

SM: You know how people say there are moments in sport that sting, and they really remember? That third period goal against last year in the playoffs is one of those stingers for sure. Staying steady, building on the things that have made us successful and then hoping the leadership of those players who have been one goal away two years in a row. Hockey games aren’t easy to win so you’ve got to be ‘on’ every minute.  

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson, AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By: Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon, Freelance Tennis Writer
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal, The Next
Thursdays: Golf
By: Addie Parker, @addie_parker, The IX
Fridays: Hockey
By: @TheIceGarden, The Ice Garden
Saturdays: Gymnastics
By: Lela Moore, @runlelarun, Freelance Writer

Written by The Ice Garden