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Karl Lindholm: They hockey Mandigos — fathers & daughters

She professes, “hockey is a big part of my identity,” so when she was looking at colleges, the quality of their women’s ice hockey programs was paramount.
She considered Bowdoin, Amherst, Hamilton — and Middlebury, all excellent programs with coaches she respected.
Not the least of her considerations was the coach. She chose to play for the most successful Division 3 women’s ice hockey coach in the country:
Her dad.
Bill Mandigo has won more games in his 27 years at Middlebury than any other coach in the history of women’s collegiate ice hockey. He has seven NESCAC titles (in 14 years of conference championships) and five national championships (and two runners-up). Three times he has been national coach of the year and twice NESCAC coach of the year. There is a good chance Bill will pass the 500 career win mark this season.
Again, this year, the Panthers are nationally ranked, at present fourth in the country at 5-2-1 (3-1 in conference play). Last Saturday, the Panthers tied, 2-2, second-ranked Elmira (9-1-1) in Lake Placid, avenging an earlier loss, on a late goal by junior forward Katie Mandigo, her sixth point in eight games this season.
Katie downplays the significance of playing for her father. “I started skating when I was two, so I’ve had other coaches I liked. He gave me a lot of space; we looked at those other schools, but Middlebury is the best place to play hockey. He didn’t have to ‘recruit’ me — I wanted to come.
“I liked his style of hockey. He’s a big proponent of ‘small games’ in practice. He emphasizes skills, moving the puck, creativity. He likes to have smart players and I have a pretty good sense of the game.”
We all are familiar with the complications that can come with parents coaching their own kids — favoritism on the one hand or excessive demands on the other. “I was a little apprehensive my first year,” Katie says. “It was hard to take the personal out of it when he got after me. He may have expected a little more from me, but that’s OK — I’m a hard worker.
Bill recalls having “serious conversations with Jane (his wife, Katie’s mom), and especially with Katie, about coming to Middlebury. I had some hesitation: I asked ‘Will this change the family dynamic?’ But it wasn’t like she was staying home for college — she had been away at prep school (Loomis Chafee) for four years.
“I had read about coaching your own kids, but they’re mostly about fathers and sons. There’s not much about fathers and daughters. I had no one to ask.”
Coach Mandigo has good things to say about player Mandigo. “Katie is smart, and has a tremendous work ethic. She just wants to learn and grow and get better. She’s not the quickest kid, but her intelligence makes up for it. She’s very coachable.
“She is a ‘presence’ in the offensive zone, at 5’10”, big in front of the net. She wins pucks in the corners. She’s a hockey player.”
Katie is a psychology major, with a minor in history. She hopes to coach after she graduates, staying in schools, coaching and teaching (or working in administration). She also plays lacrosse at Middlebury and played field hockey as well at Loomis-Chafee. “I loved prep school,” she says.
Katie is Bill and Jane’s third daughter. Erin played hockey at Williams, graduated in 2011, and now works in finance in Boston. Middle-child Kelly graduated from UVM and is a fourth generation nurse, living in Burlington. Mom Jane is a nurse at the Parton Health Center at Middlebury College.
Bill was 27 when he came to Middlebury to coach women’s ice hockey and football, and is now in his 27th year at Middlebury. He attended Wesleyan University and embarked upon a coaching career even before graduating in 1983.
A three-sport athlete as a freshman, he sustained a serious knee injury as a sophomore which limited his play to baseball his final two years. In the fall, he coached high school football in Glastonbury, Conn., and was the assistant hockey coach at Wesleyan, as a student, in his final two winter seasons there.
Bill is not the only Mandigo on the coaching staff at Middlebury. Bill’s younger brother, Doug, is the defensive coordinator on the highly successful Panther football team and the assistant softball coach in the spring. Like his big brother, he too played football, hockey, and baseball in college.
As a student at Middlebury, Doug’s coach in football and baseball was his brother. Bill looks back and says, “I was really hard on him,” but Doug demurs — “I don’t think he was that hard, or overly negative. I just wasn’t very good.“
Bill and Doug had experience with this parent-child dynamic in high school. Their dad, also Bill (Middlebury ’58, a hockey player under Duke Nelson) was their high school history teacher, as head of the social studies department at Burrillville High School.
“He was one of the best teachers I ever had,” Bill says, “very demanding. You didn’t get away with anything. We had some real battles over the dinner table. He was a great writing teacher.”
Within this Mandigo sports family fandango, Katie keeps a cool head. About playing for her dad, she says, “We get along: we have a good relationship.”
“I’m a hockey player. It’s who I am. I love to compete.” 

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