Ironically, when Boston College women’s hockey head coach Katie Crowley found out she was going to be inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame, she wasn’t even in the United States. Crowley and her family were on a trip to London and Paris.
But when she received the official phone call from Executive Director of USA Hockey Pat Kelleher, who she has a long-standing relationship with, Crowley still felt honored and experienced a surreal feeling. Crowley said she was shocked.
“It just really makes you reflect on those years,” Crowley, who is one of the most accomplished U.S. Women’s National Team players ever, said. “Everything that I’ve done leading up to that just makes you really think about all the people that were a special part of my life and my hockey life.”
Crowley has accumulated 374 wins in her 16 years as the head coach of BC’s squad. Before her coaching career, however, the Salem, N.H. native racked up 123 goals and 83 assists in 100 career games at Brown while also lettering as a three-time captain for the softball team.
One year after graduating from Brown in 1997, Crowley was selected to be a member of the first U.S. Women’s Hockey Olympic Team at the 1998 Winter Olympic Games in Nagano, Japan, where she won a gold medal. That moment for her—despite being early in her Olympic career—encapsulates everything she dreamed of as a young, aspiring hockey player, she said.
“Being on the first women’s hockey team to play in the Olympics, it just had a different weight to it,” Crowley said. “It was everybody’s first time doing it, right? I think that’s what made that team super special.”
She said she still keeps in touch with teammates today for that reason.
“We still get together,” Crowley said. “We still have a group chat that we all keep in touch on. That team is still really, really close. I think there’s no surprise that we won gold—we were really that close. That gold-medal game really stands out as one of the best that I’ve ever played in.”
The team Crowley is describing twice defeated archrival Canada, including a 3–1 victory in the gold-medal game, and went to Japan with a common goal—to be the first-ever Olympic champion in women’s ice hockey. That crown jewel, Crowley said, goes up with any moment she ever experienced as a coach or a player. The United States outscored opponents 36–8 that year en route to a 6–0–0 finish, and Crowley co-led the U.S. team with eight points, along with Cammi Granato, Karyn Bye-Dietz, and Gretchen Ulion.
“You had the Olympics every four years and then throughout those other years, you had World Championships,” Crowley said. “I was out of college, so we had to try to find time to go to the gym and workout, still find ice for practice times. That was certainly challenging. You’re gonna have to sacrifice—you had to sacrifice.”
The hardest part for Crowley was trying to find ice time consistently while still earning a living, she said. According to Crowley, she was lucky to have found men’s leagues to compete in during that transitional period, which were very supportive of the growth in women’s hockey. Looking back on it, Crowley said she realizes that this struggle is part of being a role model for women in sports.
“That’s a special feeling, one that I don’t take for granted,” Crowley said of being a role model for women’s hockey players and women’s athletes. “When our team was picked for the first Olympics, we knew we were a special group. We knew that through that year, and since that year, we would just see the growth in the sport. Little girls were gonna look up to us.”
Crowley said she always wanted to be a person that young women were going to look up to and aspire to be. She said she’s incredibly proud of that fact, and that this couldn’t have been done without the 1998 team. And all that being said, the 1998 team was just her first taste of representing her country.
Crowley notched 265 career points for the U.S. Women’s National Team, which still ranks her third among all players with at least 210 appearances all time. Crowley also won a silver medal Salt Lake City, Utah, in 2002 and bronze at the 2006 games in Turin, Italy, where she scored a hatrick in the bronze-medal game. Her 14 Olympic goals are tied for the Team USA lead, and her 23 career Olympic points are good for third among all American women.
“It’s just one of those things that has been such a big part of my life, and I’m truly grateful for,” Crowley said. “To be given this honor after all that. You don’t go into a sport to make the hall of fame. You do it because you love it. I don’t know if it’s even truly hit me yet.”
Under Crowley, BC is still the only Hockey East program, men’s or women’s, to have finished in the top-four of league standings every year since 2010. Crowley is a two-time ACHA National Coach of the Year, having captured the honor in both 2015 and 2016, and a four-time Hockey East Coach of the Year.
The Eagles have recorded six NCAA Frozen Fours appearances, 11 NCAA Tournament appearances, five Hockey East regular-season titles, three Hockey East championships, and six Beanpot crowns during Crowley’s tenure.
Crowley said it is still her goal to make dreams become a reality for her players, just like the 1998 U.S. Women’s Olympic team did for her. It’s what gets her out the door everyday.
But it doesn’t matter what the dream actually is, Crowley said.
“It’s a blessing to be a part of the lives of the 24 to 26 women that are on our team every year,” Crowley said. “To help them, whether it’s on the ice or off the ice, be better hockey players and people. Sometimes it’s being a doctor, a lawyer, a nurse. Whatever it is, whatever their goals are and their dreams, I want to be there. That’s what USA Hockey did for me.”