Like 2.9 million others, Colleen Coyne was awake well into the early morning hours of Feb. 22 watching the USA-Canada Olympic Gold medal women’s hockey game.
She was repeating a ritual she performed every four years for two decades. She watched the last four Olympics as Canada won four Gold medals and the USA came away with Silver, Bronze, Silver, Silver. As she settled in to watch the 2018 Gold medal game, she was hoping this was finally the year the USA would do what she and her teammates did 20 years ago.
Colleen (in action below at the ’98 Games) is one of just 43 women in the country to own an Olympic Gold medal for women’s hockey. In 1998, Coyne and the U.S. won the first-ever Olympic Gold medal in the sport, beating the Canadians 3-1 in a tense final. She then suffered through 20 years of Canadian dominance. Heading into the 2018 final, the USA had compiled a 24-6 record in Olympic games with five of the six losses coming against Canada.
But she got her wish when USA goaltender Maddie Rooney stopped Canada’s Meghan Agosta’s shootout attempt around 2:15 am on Feb. 22.
“Watching that game was definitely emotional and very intense,” she says. “The outcome of that game meant more than the end of a 20-year drought for the U.S. Nearly a year earlier, the team had drawn a line in the sand and demanded better support from USA Hockey for the women’s program. They took a huge risk when they promised they would not play in the U.S.-hosted World Championships unless significant improvements were made by USA Hockey to the support provided to the athletes. They won that battle and they won gold at the World Championships. but they didn’t stop there.
“After that, they pretty much guaranteed they were going to bring home the Olympic Gold in Pyeongchang. This was bold and beautiful but when you’re on the outside looking in, and there is nothing you can do to help, all you can do is hope it all works out. It’s like when you encourage your child to try something hard, but it’s also dangerous and they might end up in the hospital. All you can do is cross your fingers.”
Everything turned out okay for the kids, and Coyne, now 46, was able to get to work as DRIVN’s marketing director on time the next day. Now she’s enjoying being able to reminisce about her hockey career.
She grew up on a pond in Falmouth, Mass., determined to be the first female in the NHL. She played on her first organized team when she was eight, playing with boys until she was around 14. She, of course, grew up a Boston Bruins fan, except for a short rebellious stretch when she cheered for the Montreal Canadians as a fifth-grader.
She was lucky, she says, to have some older girls playing in Falmouth she could look up to and emulate, but when it came to a role model she could watch on TV, it was the Bruins Ray Bourque.
She went off to the University of New Hampshire where she stood out as a defenseman, then paired with Tara Mounsey on defense in the 1998 Nagano Olympics, earning a plus-seven rating during the Olympics, meaning the USA scored seven more goals than they allowed when she was on the ice.
“We wouldn’t have won the Gold if we didn’t have such great chemistry,” says Colleen of the ’98 team. “Everyone knew their role and embraced it. We had great leadership and a ton of confidence.”
As a marketing executive, Coyne looks back at hockey in the ’98 Olympics and sees a missed opportunity.
“Being in marketing now and looking back, there was really no plan for our success,” she says. “We were a new product, so to speak. Just like with any new product, when you launch it, you need to have a plan to capitalize on it if the product is successful. After we won, there really wasn’t a plan for us.
“That was also the first time the NHL guys played in the Olympics. (USA Hockey) was really focused on that. They expected big things from that team. So perhaps that was a distraction, too.”
When DRIVN CEO Chris Heidelberger approached Colleen about joining the DRIVN staff, she saw an exciting opportunity.
“It was interesting to me,” she says. “I saw the need for it, and it really aligned with my previous experience at Hubspot.”
With DRIVN, Colleen has immediately shown her value.
“We were very fortunate to be able to get Colleen,” says Heidelberger. “She has great insights and is able to contribute to the business in a number of areas. And her expertise in marketing has helped take us to a new level.”