Northeastern coach Joy Woog — last season’s Hockey East Coach of the Year — has resigned, effective last Thursday. The resignation came following several complaints to the athletic department about Woog’s conduct, according to members of the 2003-04 team.
In meetings with athletic director Dave O’Brien, players claimed Woog’s coaching style centered on psychological abuse, negativity and intimidation. Several players involved said that the team was unified against O’Brien renewing Woog’s contract for next season.
“From what I’ve understood, what happened this year has been happening ever since [Woog] got into the program,” said Ashly Waggoner, a Northeastern freshman this past season.
Waggoner is one of at least seven underclassmen who asked for her release prior to Woog’s resignation. Team-leading scorer Cyndy Kenyon and all-conference defenseman Theresa Ella were also among the seven. At least three of the seven players have already arranged their transfers and signed with other programs — Kenyon (Wisconsin), Waggoner (Minnesota-Duluth) and Rebecca Peters (New Hampshire).
Kenyon was the first player to ask for her release back in January following a conflict between assistant coach Mike Cox and Woog.
“Mike Cox was the one who recruited me and brought me to the program, and he ran the forwards and I had a great relationship with him,” Kenyon said. “Once he was not going to be there any longer, that was the ultimate reason I didn’t want to be there as well.”
Kenyon did not know the details behind why Cox, a coach with seven years experience between Northeastern and Harvard, was prohibited from sitting on the Northeastern bench from January on.
Kenyon, a Wisconsin native, said her decision to return to her home state was her own after a positive experience of living in Boston for two years. She said that after her release she was not involved in voicing complaints about Woog.
This year’s team was not the first to speak to O’Brien as a group. The same occurred in the middle of the 2002-03 season. Shortly thereafter, Woog cut team captains Pam Pachal and Michelle Lorion. According to Pachal, Woog made the cuts because she wrongfully believed they had been leading the revolt. In May, Lorion filed a lawsuit against Woog and Northeastern claiming that Woog had punched her in practice. The school denies the charge.
One season later, the complaints to O’Brien continued among both the returning players and the freshmen.
“Her whole coaching style, I’ve never been taught like that before,” Waggoner said. “I don’t see how she can be teaching like that at the Division I level. She treats everyone like we’re squirts.”
Woog, who is a relation of former Gopher coach Doug Woog, earned Coach of the Year honors in Hockey East this past season and posted a respectable 65-53-14 record over four seasons. But her teams consistently struggled down the stretch each season, including the latest edition which went 0-6-1 following a 13-7-7 start.
“We didn’t play for the love of the game any more,” Waggoner said of the season’s conclusion. “The whole atmosphere in the rink was different. It felt like it was our job every day to go to practice. No one ever wanted to be there.”
After Waggoner got her release, she says Woog continued to intimidate her. Two weeks ago, Waggoner received a call at home in Alaska from the Northeastern police, who said Woog had accused her of trashing her office and stealing a game tape. In addition, Waggoner was told she would have to fly back to Boston for a court appearance if the tape was not returned. Waggoner said she had been in Woog’s office in April to make a copy of a Beanpot game tape for UMD with O’Brien’s permission, but she denied Woog’s accusations. Waggoner’s family has not heard from the police since and believes the complaint is no longer being pursued.
Waggoner said she signed early with Northeastern and had no idea about any history of complaints against Woog at the time.
“I went there for my official visit and I was planning to go to other places, and [Woog] said, ‘Why don’t you sign early?'” Waggoner said. “I had six days to decide whether to go there or not, and I signed under pressure and on the spot. I got a full scholarship, so I was like, might as well just sign.”
Aside from Waggoner, Kenyon, Ella and Peters, the other players said to have received their releases are sophomore defenseman Rachael Bertram, freshman Melissa Jubinville and walk-on freshman Susannah Brokl. Only Bertram and Ella were still looking for places to play.
Neither Woog nor O’Brien could be reached for comment.