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Hockey Is For Everyone

Fry, new Coyotes adviser, aims to boost girls hockey in Arizona

Olympic silver medalist who grew up in state hopes to reach youth as ambassador

by Tracey Myers @TraMyers_NHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

Lyndsey Fry thought she was bound for a Wall Street-type job upon graduating from Harvard University.

But Fry, who had 108 points (50 goals, 58 assists) in four seasons with the Harvard women's hockey team, had an epiphany as she received her silver medal with the United States at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

"I looked up at my family and started having these flashes of people who had made an impact on my life as a kid: coaches, teammates, parents of teammates, everyone who'd helped me get to that moment," said Fry, who grew up outside Phoenix in Chandler, Arizona, and graduated in 2015 with a bachelor's degree in history of science. "That's when I realized, that's what I want to do. After college, I was going to come home and see what I could do."

 

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Fry was hired by the Arizona Coyotes as special adviser to president and CEO Ahron Cohen on Nov. 15. The 26-year-old will also be brand ambassador for the Coyotes. It's an opportunity for her to help reach more youth, especially girls, in the desert, where hockey continues to grow. Fry already had been working with the Coyotes with Small Frys, an ice hockey initiation program for girls ages 6-12.

Cohen said he got to know Fry over the summer and knew she'd be a good addition to help the Coyotes promote girls hockey in the area.

"First of all, she can make an immediate impact in terms of helping us bridge the gap and develop stronger relationships with people in the community, specifically in the hockey community," Cohen said. "But this is a long-term investment play for us. I want to look back five, 10 years from now and be really proud of the work we started putting in today, and even before when Lyndsey was involved with Small Frys, and look and go, 'Wow, we really made some significant strides and we're really proud of this.'

"It's pretty amazing when you think about it: You have Auston Matthews, [the] No. 1 (NHL) Draft pick (by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2016), star NHL player. You have Lyndsey Fry, star player who leads the women's Olympic team, and they're coming out of Arizona. I mean, we want 10 more of those stories over the next 5-10 years, and we think we're in the right position to do that."

There were 8,617 players in Arizona during the 2017-18 season, according to USA Hockey. That included 757 girls and women, up from 580 in 2016-17.

"Right now, we're really seeing some explosive growth," Fry said. "I think a lot of it has to do with the Coyotes jumping headfirst into girls hockey. They're really supporting and funding it. We'll see some sustainable long-term programs thriving here for girls hockey."

The number of girls playing is especially pleasing to Fry, who played on boys teams until she was about 14.

"I played with my local house league, which at the time was very male-dominated," Fry said. "Back then it was me and a few girls scattered here and there. You see the rinks now, and the house leagues have five girls on every team, which is awesome."

There are seven ice rinks in the Phoenix area: AZ Ice in Arcadia, Gilbert and Peoria; Ice Den in Chandler and Scottsdale; and Oceanside Ice Arena and Gila River Arena, home of the Coyotes, in Glendale. There are also good women's hockey programs at Grand Canyon University and Arizona State.

Small Frys, which has an all-female staff, began in 2017. Her work with the program led to her getting a master's degree in business from Arizona State. "Marketing became a passion, finding ways to be cost effective," she said.

Fry said there were 60 girls in the program's last session, which ran from April to August, and 40 girls have already RSVP'd for next summer.

"We hear from parents, 'When my daughter was in Little Howlers (for kids ages 5-9), I didn't think she wanted to play. Now she doesn't want to leave the ice and loves being in the all-girl environment,'" Fry said. "All I knew as a kid was boys hockey, so it took a while to appreciate having an all-girls option. It provides them with a safe space. They feel more comfortable socially, so they're more comfortable trying their hockey skills."

Katie McGovern, a forward for Minnesota of the National Women's Hockey League and a Small Frys coach from Scottsdale, said of Fry, "She's done so much for the girls in our community already, and this is a big step for hockey overall in Arizona and in the West. She does a lot of clinics and camps everywhere. This will really help grow hockey on our side of the country."

Fry hopes to help keep that going in the Phoenix metropolitan area, which has about 4.7 million people.

"We have a huge population in the Phoenix area," Fry said. "We're just barely scratching the surface of the girls' population. It's just building the awareness, having people like me and our college players being ambassadors and helping girls realize, you can play hockey too."

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