Social media a mystery to U.S. women’s hockey coach Mark Johnson


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Mark Johnson, coach of the U.S. women’s hockey team, was asked during a news conference Thursday what he thought of Twitter and other social media -- and whether he could picture Herb Brooks, his coach on the 1980 ‘Miracle on Ice’ hockey team, allowing players to tweet.

‘Yeah, I can see Herb doing that,’ he said, his tone dripping with sarcasm.

Johnson said the advances in communication are among the biggest differences he has noted here as compared to his 1980 Olympic appearance.

‘Someone asked me the other day what’s the difference between the village we’re in right now and the one in Lake Placid, and obviously one of the biggest differences is technology,’ he said. ‘I remember right in the center of Lake Placid in the parking lot is where the communications tent was set up, so if you had to do a story back then -- compared to how you had to do it today, it would be much different. You had to run to that tent and hope that a phone was available so you could call back to wherever you were, calling back to dictate your story over the phone.


‘Tweeter, I’m still trying to figure that out,’ he said, drawing laughter from his audience for his mistake. ‘You could ask my players back at Wisconsin. The text messaging ... the first day I bought my daughter her phone she was excited and I was driving her to school. And her friend was in the back seat of our car and they were texting each other. From front seat to back seat.

‘It’s a new world. I’m much grayer. I’m adapting to it, but it’s the world we live in, and I think one thing we have to do as coaches [is] ... to be as knowledgeable as athletes are coming through your door. The athletes that are coming through our locker room are much different than eight or 10 years ago. And so are we equipped as coaches to deal with them both on and off the ice, being in their world?

‘Those are some of the adjustments that if you’re going to be successful, we as coaches, even though we might be from the old school and we have our way of doing things, we have to be willing to adapt to these young women.’
Defenseman Angela Ruggiero of Simi Valley has been tweeting here (@AngelaRuggiero) and she also has her own website, She said she uses social media to promote women’s hockey in new ways.

‘I think it’s actually really a great thing to be able to expose your sport in a different dimension than the traditional media. You guys do a great job sharing our story, but we give kind of a different look at it, from the athletes’ perspective,’ she told reporters.

‘For me to share that with fans and post a picture or talk about our experiences as a team, it only helps build our fan base. We’re a sport that gets a lot of press in the Olympic year and doesn’t get as much in the off-Olympic years, so it’s great for all of us to be able to share experiences in that sort of new format.

‘And it’s fun to be able to give that insider look at sort of the cool stuff we do in the locker room or on the bus. A really interesting team. If I can share that with all the followers on Twitter, I think it’s only the better for our sport.’


-- Helene Elliott in Vancouver

Top photo: Gigi Marvin on left and Kasey Bellamy on right shoot video of themselves prior to a United States Olympic women’s hockey news conference in Vancouver. Many of the women hockey players are using social media during the Vancouver Olympics. Credit: Gary Ambrose, Los Angeles Times.