Kathryn Waldo is unlike most of the female legends of hockey profiled on this website. She never played in any international tournaments. No Olympics. No World Championships.
But she is a legend at Northeastern University in Boston, where she lettered from 1995 through 1999. She had led the Huskies in scoring with 15 goals as a freshman and by her senior season had also earned the ECAC’s Award of Valor. In 1997 she inspired her team to the ECAC division 1 championship. She scored 52 goals and 106 points in her collegiate career, good enough for 19th all time in school history.
She did it all while battling cystic fibrosis.
Hockey players are known to be valiant fighters, but Ms. Waldo took that definition to a whole other level. She had CF since she was a toddler, but there was no way she was going to let the terrible lung disease stop her from achieving her dreams.
First and foremost on her list was to play hockey.
“Waldo was tiny (5-foot-2, 115 pounds), but she was a little powerhouse and one of the strongest skaters on our team. She inspired us to push ourselves and work harder,’’ said former teammate Emily Sweeney. “I remember so many times we’d be skating laps at practice and my legs would be burning. I’d be gasping for air, and then I’d look up and see Waldo still skating away, pulling ahead of the pack and beating everyone to the finish line. I always admired her.’’
An amazing story, one that even made it into Sports Illustrated.
Waldo graduated with her degree in education in 2000. She would coach girl's high school hockey before her health took a turn for the worst in 2002.
She waited one year, seven months of which were in hospital hooked up to a ventilator, awaiting double lung transplant surgery. At first it seemed to be a big success, but in 2004 her body rejected her new lungs.
She had been hanging on ever since, desperately trying to get the most she could out of each day. She succumbed to complications of cystic fibrosis, specifically lung and kidney failure, in December, 2009. She was 33 years old.