Bridging The Social Distancing Gap

Olympian Lyndsey Fry Connects With Kids Through Her Online Skills Sessions

 

As stay-at-home orders in response to coronavirus extend deeper into the spring, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find ways to pass the time. And with cancellations and postponements continuing to pile up, it can be difficult to stay positive in these uncertain times.

Just ask Lyndsey Fry, a silver medalist with the 2014 U.S. Women’s Olympic Team. Between the hockey season being put on hold and her wedding – which was supposed to be in mid-April – now pushed back a year, she has as good a reason as anybody to be upset.

“It’s OK to be bummed, believe me,” Fry said from her home in Arizona. “It’s OK to be disappointed. But what we’re really trying to communicate with our kids is that there’s no better time to work on different things.”

Fry, who works with the Arizona Coyotes as a hockey ambassador and advisor for girls’ hockey, knows this can be a difficult time for players whose seasons came to an abrupt end. From kids who may have trouble focusing on their online classes to those whose home life might not be the most stable, hockey has long been their escape. And being cooped up in a house without hockey – or anything, really – can be challenging.

So, Fry and her colleagues with the Arizona Kachinas, have stepped up their instructional act, with an online twist.

“As an association, we look at how we could help by compiling things that our kids can look at, but also can still feel connected to us and vice versa,” said Fry, discussing her online skill sessions posted on Facebook. 

“That’s really important. There are a million drills online right now but having it be their own coach is so important with all of the social distancing stuff going on.”

Beyond the drills and virtual training, Fry has helped with webinars that she says are “hockey focused” but not necessarily all about skill development. 

“We did one on mental performance, one on nutrition and another on overcoming obstacles,” she said. “That’s been really good because that’s the kind of stuff that, during the season, you hope to get to but sometimes you get so wrapped up in the hockey that you don’t get to it.”

When she’s not putting together skill videos or simple meal plans her teams, Fry has taken up writing to stay busy – and sane. Inspired by her own experiences or those of players in her organization, she’s written three short stories geared toward hockey families and posted them on her website for free. Fry was enrolled in online classes as a high schooler, so she knew how big of an adjustment this could be for some kids – and parents. She doesn’t claim to be an expert by any stretch, but it’s something she’s enjoyed doing and has taken her mind of everything else going on at the moment.

“I can only imagine some of the challenges these parents with younger kids are facing all of the sudden being in online school,” said Fry, who graduated from Harvard University in 2015 with a degree in History of Science. 

“I just saw this as a nice way to give kids something to do that will keep them engaged, maybe give the parents a little peace and quiet, even if it’s just five minutes.”

With another short story in the works and more on the way, Fry is showing no signs of slow down. Her long-term vision is to compile a book of about 20 stories, all illustrated by youth hockey players, with the proceeds going to hockey scholarships.

For now, she’ll focus on keeping her players and herself engaged – both online and through her stories. 

“We’re just trying to remind kids to have fun, use hockey as an escape if you need it, find different ways to play, and stay engaged and connected with the game,” Fry said. “If hockey brings you joy, find a way to continue doing it.”

 

Photos courtesy of Lyndsey Fry/NHL.com.

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