Olympic gold medalist Shelley Looney carries extensive experience with USA Hockey as a player, coach and grassroots administrator.
Now, she’s taking that experience to the collegiate level.
Looney, whose playing career was highlighted by winning the first women’s hockey gold medal at the 1998 Olympic Winter Games, was recently named head coach of the women’s ice hockey program at Lindenwood University in Saint Charles, Mo.
“I’ve coached many different teams in the past at all levels,” said Looney. “Many people asked when I was getting into the college world on a regular basis, and when this came up, I felt it was a great opportunity to grow Lindenwood’s hockey program and make an impact.”
Looney spent 13 years as a player on the U.S. Women’s National Team, most famously scoring the game-winning goal in the gold-medal game against Canada at the 1998 Olympic Winter Games in Nagano, Japan. She also captured a gold medal at the 2005 IIHF Women’s World Championship and a silver at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City, Utah, among other honors.
“Standing with your teammates, singing the national anthem and getting a gold medal around your neck … nothing really will top it, I don’t think, not to mention actually touching the puck and putting it in the net,” Looney said of the '98 Olympics. “Seeing the growth of the game, the talent level rising from when I was a player to now and being part of USA Hockey afterwards has been exciting.”
Looney nets the gold medal-winning goal for Team USA at the 1998 Olympic Winter Games.
Looney was happy to help the women’s game grow throughout her playing career, much like the 2018 U.S. Olympic Women’s Hockey Team is currently doing after winning the program’s second Olympic gold medal last year in PyeongChang, South Korea.
“When I first started, I had other females I looked up to, so when someone calls me a pioneer, it’s an honor, but I always think about the girls that I looked up to,” Looney said. “Little kids can now look up to the current players and say, ‘That’s my idol.’ I think you carry that torch and pass it on, and then the girls behind you pass it onto the next generation.”
Looney continues to give back to the current generation and beyond, with extensive coaching experience at all levels of the game. After her playing career, Looney twice served as the head coach for the U.S. Women’s National University Team, and once as an assistant.
Looney also was an assistant on the Under-18 and Under-22 Women’s Select Teams, and a co-head coach with the Buffalo Beauts of the National Women’s Hockey League. She also was a head coach of the girls varsity ice hockey program at The Nichols School in Buffalo, New York. Additionally, Looney was an assistant with the University of Vermont.
“I spend a lot of my daily time with youth,” Looney said. “Somehow, I connect really well with them and I understand how to get the most out of them. I think it comes from giving them encouragement and self-confidence and that goes across the board at any level.”
Looney has done it as a coach and an administrator. Looney has also worked as a chief evaluator at USA Hockey District Development Camps, while serving as a head coach and coaching director of several development festivals.
During the last five years, Looney served as the director of hockey for the Buffalo Bison Youth Hockey Organization. She was also a girls’ coaching director with the New Jersey Colonials.
All this is to say, the Lindenwood Lions are in good hands.
“You want to give a player confidence and at the same time give them direction,” Looney said. “If a player is doubting themselves, I don’t feel like they’re going to perform at their best. I feel like confidence is one thing coaches should focus on, especially in the female sports world.”
Looney is anxious to bring her expertise and experience to Lindenwood.
“I’m really excited about this opportunity,” Looney said. “The athletic director has been wonderful to work with and the support I’ve received is great. I’m excited to get on the ice.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.