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 led a class of eight athletes and teams at the induction ceremony.
Kendall Coyne. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University
Kendall Coyne Schofield — a women’s hockey pioneer of speed, skill and ambition — has been inducted into the Northeastern Athletics Hall of Fame 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 was honored alongside seven other athletes and teams at the induction ceremony Nov. 9.
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.”
Kendall Coyne Schofield
Forward, Women’s Ice Hockey
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.
“She didn’t have a great experience in her freshman year,” Flint acknowledges. “I would get so caught up a lot of times in wins and losses, and she helped me see that it’s important to invest in your players and care about them and get to know them. The standard she set for herself, she wanted those standards for the team and she wanted players to buy into that.
“And so we had a really, really good talk. She thankfully decided to stay and we worked on the culture, and she was a big part of where we are today. She helped elevate the program to another level.”
Success across the board
The investments paid off in Coyne Schofield’s senior year. With her wrist fully healed from post-Olympic surgery in 2014, the team captain scored 50 goals (for 84 points, which remains a school record) while driving Northeastern (28-9-1) to the NCAA tournament at a time when only eight teams were invited.
“She could have taken the easy road and just transferred and gone somewhere else,” Flint says. “But she was committed and wanted to see it through. And so she got us to our first NCAA Tournament, and we’ve just been on the rise ever since.”
Coyne Schofield was demanding of herself across the board. From the start she set out to earn a bachelor’s degree in communication studies and a master’s in corporate and organizational communications (graduating summa cum laude). She served as a sideline broadcaster at men’s hockey games, providing her with the experience for her ongoing role as a TV announcer and analyst. Her “dream co-op” as a media relations intern with her hometown Chicago Blackhawks helped lead to her current role with the team as a developmental coach.
During her senior year she caught a red-eye to San Francisco to see her future husband start for the Denver Broncos in their Super Bowl victory over the Carolina Panthers.
The three-legged balance at Northeastern — between sports and academics and co-op — appealed to Coyne Schofield’s desire for excellence in all areas.
“When I was at my best in sport,” she says, “I was at my best in school.”
The Huskies have gone on to earn three straight Frozen Four appearances. Last year Alina Mueller (254 points) surpassed Coyne Schofield as Northeastern’s all-time leading scorer, though Coyne Schofield still holds the school record of 141 goals (in 133 games).
Coyne Schofield has helped drive the new Professional Women’s Hockey League, which debuts in January. She’ll be playing for the Minnesota franchise alongside her friend and former Husky teammate Dinesa Krizova.
With a sense of drama reminiscent of Michael Jordan, she scored on her last shot for Northeastern.
“The way I came in versus the way I ended, I was just so proud of the transformative years that the program undertook and the way that Northeastern has helped shape me as an individual,” Coyne Schofield says. “It’s been so fun to follow as a proud alum — not only from the hockey perspective. I keep saying my degree value keeps increasing year by year. The university just keeps getting better and better and better.”
Eight inductees in all
In addition to Coyne Schofield, these stars and teams were inducted into the Northeastern Athletics Hall of Fame:
Women’s Rowing (2015-18)
Jen (Ruggiero) Rowe
Field Hockey (1994-95)
Men’s Ice Hockey (2005-09)
Women’s Ice Hockey Team
Men’s Basketball Team
Christopher Emanuele – Baseball (2003-06)
A career .324 hitter in four seasons with the Huskies, Emanuele helped lead Northeastern to the America East Tournament Championship and an NCAA tournament bid as a freshman.
Jim Hennessey – Football (1957-59)
The 1959 team MVP threw for 1,461 yards and eight touchdowns over three seasons. He continued to serve the program as an assistant coach and administrator (1971-99).
Madison Mailey – Women’s Rowing (2015-18)
A member of the Huskies Top-20 varsity eight all four years, Mailey went on to earn an Olympic gold medal with Team Canada in the women’s eight at the 2021 Games in Japan.
Jen (Ruggiero) Rowe – Field Hockey (1994-95)
As a senior All-American Rowe led the Huskies to the NCAA Final Four while going 21-3 and allowing 0.90 goals per game with 12 shutouts, including nine of her final 11 games.
Joe Vitale – Men’s Ice Hockey (2005-09)
Vitale concluded his senior season as team captain as the first Northeastern winner of Hockey East’s best defensive forward award. He played six NHL seasons and serves today as radio analyst for the St. Louis Blues.
1987-88 Women’s Hockey Team
The undefeated Huskies (26-0-1), winners of ECAC and Beanpot titles, featured five Northeastern Hall of Famers — coach Don MacLeod and star players Kelly Dyer Hayes, Tina Cardinale-Beauchemin, Donna-Lynn Rosa and Fiona Rice.
1980-81 Men’s Basketball Team
The first Northeastern men’s basketball team to reach March Madness went 24-6 for Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame coach Jim Calhoun, including dramatic last-second wins engineered by Perry Moss and Chip Rucker in the conference and NCAA tournaments.