For world-class athletes, getting selected for the U.S. Olympic team isn’t anything like Oscar night—it’s not “an honor just to be nominated.” Nothing short of the gold medal will do for Northeastern hockey forward Kendall Coyne, AMD’17, and 2- and 4-man bobsled world champion Steve Langton, DMSB’06.
The two elite athletes met this summer at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, N.Y., but were already keenly aware of each other’s prowess.
“Steve, who is one of the best U.S. athletes, complimented my skills. That was huge for me,” says Coyne.
In June, she powered her way onto the U.S. national team, becoming one of 25 women chosen out of 41 invited to try out. When the roster is announced in December, only four more players will be cut.
This isn’t Coyne’s first rodeo. At the age of 16 in 2010, she was the youngest woman ever invited to try out for the national team. She was cut, but that just served as a four-year motivator for the smallest member of this Olympic squad. Even though she’s just 5 feet 2 inches, Coyne’s teammates say she’s the fiercest competitor.
That trait was instilled at age 3, when Coyne shed her figure skates for hockey skates to be just like her older brother. Because there was no girls’ team, she played with the boys’ team until she was 15, which she says made her stronger, faster, and better.
That was the year she burst onto the international scene as the youngest player selected to the U.S. team in the International Ice Hockey Federation’s World Women’s Under-18 Championship.
In her two seasons so far at Northeastern, Coyne has amassed 63 goals and 50 assists, the first Husky in 13 years to record at least 45 points in consecutive seasons.
Langton predicts great things for Coyne. “As long as she stays healthy, her chances of making the Olympic team are fantastic,” he says.
For 30-year-old Langton, being part of the gold-medal bobsled team would be the crowning achievement in an illustrious athletic career.
After graduating from Northeastern with a business degree and track-and-field accolades, Langton started looking for other sports that would play to his considerable assets. As a 6-foot-2-inch, 230-pound sprinter and long jumper, he had the perfect body type and skill set for a bobsled push man.
After attending the 2006 recruitment camp in Lake Placid, he quickly worked his way up the ranks. His resumé includes 13 World Cup medals, two World Championship medals, four National Push titles, and one World Push title.
At the start of the 2010–11 season, Langton joined forces with Steve Holcomb, widely considered the best bobsled driver in the world, on the 2-man and the renowned “Night Train” 4-man sled. The duo rocked the international sporting world by winning gold in the 2-man at the 2012 world championships—something no American team had ever accomplished.
“I put in a lot of hard work to come back from two hip surgeries, and this was the proof that I can be the best. Winning that gold was definitely a career moment,” he says.
At the 2010 Olympics, his team was second in the world going into Vancouver, which had what some experts considered the most dangerous track in the world.
“A small mistake left us upside down on our heads and disqualified,” says Langton. “In terms of my psyche, though, it lit a fire under me.”
His singular focus is on reaching the top of the podium with his teammates and hearing the national anthem played. “After Sochi, I’m not sure yet. But I love this sport and am so proud of what we’ve accomplished.”