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Throwback Thursday: Revisiting the legacy of Ned Harkness

This weeks Throwback Thursday is more of a Flashback Friday.

Photo: Ned Harkness coaching lacrosse (left) and hockey (right).

While many Cornell hockey fans pass by the Ned Harkness Alumni Room when entering Lynah Rink for Friday and Saturday night games, few may know the legacy of this great coach. Ned Harkness came to Cornell in 1963 from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) to coach Cornell men’s hockey. But his influence came to extend beyond the hockey rink. Before Harkness, Cornell hockey was not the powerhouse team that it is today. The team had the longest losing streak in the Ivy League and never won an Ivy League game until 1961. From a suffering several years, Harkness turned the team around to a 9-1 Ivy League record in just two years. By 1963, the team finished second in Eastern hockey with a 22-5 record, 9-1 in the Ivy League.

It was around this time that Harkness was asked to lead another fledgling Cornell sports team: men’s lacrosse. Cornell’s lacrosse squad had suffered similarly to the hockey team before Harkness. The year before Harkness took the helm of the lacrosse team (while coaching hockey in the winter), the team had finished 4-7 (2-4 Ivy League) and lost nine graduating seniors. Only one year later, Cornell men’s lacrosse finished out the season 12-0, undefeated, and won the Ivy League championship.

As Cornell’s men’s lacrosse team has sought a stronger footing over the past years, it may inspire optimism to look back at the extraordinary comeback of two of Cornell’s most prominent teams under Coach Harkness.


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