“The moment that I knew what I wanted to do was the moment they put the Olympic medal around my neck,” said Fry.
“I looked up at my family and it was just flashes of every hockey memory I’d ever had. I had flashes of my teammates in Chandler and of my coaches and of everyone that helped me get where I am… and that’s when I realized that I wanted to go give back to the community that helped me get where I was that day.”
Raised in Chandler, Arizona, 23 year old Fry opted against taking a shot at the CWHL or the newly-former NWHL upon her graduation from Harvard University. She opted against staying in New England, where there are a growing number of jobs for women in the hockey community; she didn’t stay on to help coach at a prep school or work with the women’s team at Harvard, either.
Instead, she moved back to the desert, where she founded Fry Hockey – an organization that travels Arizona and other parts of North America, helping teach hockey to girls in non-traditional markets. She’s got plenty planned for the organization in the next few months, including weekly clinics out in Gilbert and hopes to bring Girl’s Appreciation Night to other teams around the NHL – and she’s quick to confirm that she’s living out her dream.
Sure enough, she’s doing everything in her power to grow the game in the valley.
She was featured on the Fox Sports Arizona broadcast during Girl’s Appreciation Night at the Arizona Coyotes game earlier this season, and she tries to get out to the rink as often as she can to help out with clinics and coaching and lessons for young girls and boys alike.
To Fry, though, it’s about more than just the big gestures.
“I’m trying to learn the landscape of not just girl’s hockey here in Arizona, but all hockey here, said Fry. “Any time there’s an opportunity for me to get involved, I try to take advantage of it.”
An example? “There’s a girl doing her school project on me, and I’ve been working with her on that. I really try to be as open as possible to any girl who might need my help – whether it’s an email about college or a school project, I just try to be really available.”
Fry grew up playing hockey with the boys teams here in Phoenix, playing AA hockey all the way through bantam with the Chandler Ice Jr. Polar Bears.
It was at that point, though, that she left to play hockey in Colorado. She’d played some tournaments with the AZ Select girl’s program in the Phoenix area as a teen, but left with one goal in mind – to get recruited for college.
She isn’t alone in doing that. The best female hockey players from Arizona often leave the state to play at prep schools in New England or high schools in Minnesota; the exodus has made it hard for the growth of women’s club hockey in Arizona to take off at the speed that men’s hockey has, and that will take time and plenty of effort to reverse.
Fry thinks it’s possible, though, and she’s here to help – whether it’s with coaching at the younger level or getting involved in the future with the brand-new women’s ACHA club team at Arizona State University. That team, she thinks, will help her in her quest to grow girl’s hockey in the desert.
“When I was growing up, I didn’t have any girls to watch. But you know, a lot of the girls in New England and Minnesota play hockey because they get to go watch these women’s teams go play.
I think that if parents take their daughters to go watch ASU, it will get the girls inspired and excited. It will generate a lot of support for the team and the girls who are playing, as well – the more people in the stands, the more the recruits coming to continue making women’s hockey better will be excited.
They’ll say, ‘wow. People really get fired up in the desert, I can’t wait.’”
Fry isn’t just interested in growing girl’s ice hockey in Arizona, though. She’s waiting to hear back, but she hopes to make Team USA for women’s inline hockey for the World Championships this summer.
Her first exposure to the sport was through roller hockey, and she’s seen a decline in inline interest in the last handful of years. Part of her mission is to hopefully renew interest in inline as a way to get kids playing at an early age:
“Roller hockey has kind of fallen off the map, and it’s kind of a shame. I’ve talked to a lot of parents out in California, and they’ve noticed it – but they say ‘if our kids hadn’t played roller, they would never have hit the ice’.
Hopefully in the future, I can also start running some roller clinics. I’ll try to use my name to get people fired up to follow roller hockey again, and get kids excited.”
Fry made it clear that the reason she came back to Arizona after an impressive four years of NCAA hockey – and a silver Olympic medal, to boot – because she’s passionate about helping the kids from the area she grew up in.
“I want to make sure I’m not the last girl from Arizona or a non-traditional hockey state to live out the dream, whether it’s college or the Olympics. I want us to be able to change and grow.”
With her help, that seems pretty likely.
To learn more about Fry Hockey, head to the organization’s official website by clicking here The site will feature information on the upcoming Gilbert clinics (availabl for both boys and girls) in upcoming weeks.