Growing up in Arizona, a state with no professional or Division I women’s ice hockey teams, Lyndsey Fry didn’t have easy access to female role models in her favorite sport. That doesn’t mean she lacked access to the sport itself, however.
As a kid, she was an Arizona Coyotes fan and was heavily involved in the youth hockey community in Arizona, which led to her playing college hockey at Harvard University and then helping Team USA to a silver medal at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
Now, she has been hired by the Coyotes’ front office, and she’s back where to her hockey career was born.
“My forte has been that I knew I could make huge impact here in Arizona,” Fry said. “I asked myself, ‘What’s the opportunity for me to make a difference back at home?’”
Fry has worked with the Coyotes’ amateur development staff in the past, but she was recently hired on as a special advisor to the team’s president and CEO, Ahron Cohen, and as a brand ambassador.
“Lyndsey brings an unparalleled passion for growing the game of hockey throughout Arizona, and she serves as an amazing role model for all young kids throughout the state — not just for girls or just for hockey players,” Cohen said.
Fry’s main role will feature work with the team’s youth hockey programs, with a particular focus on girls hockey.
“She’s a passionate, young woman who continues to pursue this path to create opportunities for kids to be able to play the game she loves,” said Fry’s former coach at Harvard, Katey Stone, with whom she remains close. “She has a great work ethic and an awesome disposition.”
Fry will also be a part of community engagement, corporate communications and brand awareness initiatives.
“It’s stretched now beyond just a girls’ and women’s ambassador,” she said of her position. “There are a lot of aspects that, being a local Arizonan, I can help with making sure there’s a good bridge between the local hockey community and the Arizona Coyotes, getting the brand out there and making sure we’re painting the town.”
With her playing background, particularly in the youth scene in Arizona, Fry brings a unique viewpoint to the job.
“For sure, I have a different perspective,” she said. “For the women’s side, I’ve played at the highest level, but I grew up playing boys hockey in Arizona. The nice thing is I understand the youth community as a whole, but I can bring that female side of the game too.”
Although she didn’t have the opportunity to play in an all-girls league when she was growing up, much of Fry’s work now is focused on the Coyotes’ girls program.
“Right now, we’ve had success with the Small Frys program,” she said. “It’s a girls-only development program that stems from the Coyotes’ Little Howlers learn-to-play NHL initiative… The stars are aligning, so the strategy is just making sure everyone is on same page.
“I’m very fortunate; the Coyotes have been wonderful to me. We have the resources, and we have an opportunity to make a difference and show little girls they can do this.”
Fry mentioned that her greatest satisfaction comes from watching the girls evolve as hockey players.
“The parental feedback from moms and dads — we hear them say, ‘When my daughter was doing learn-to-play with the boys, she was kind of intimidated and scared. Now, she’s in this social setting with other girls and coached by women and she loves it,’” said Fry. “It’s really positive for us. The coolest is the transition in the girls. They come in as shy, timid kids, and by the end, we can’t get them to be quiet.”
The Coyotes’ commitment to growing the youth game is something Fry takes to heart.
“From a team perspective, our biggest fans are hockey players,” she said. “The more we grow the game in the valley, the more fans we generate for the team. From a personal perspective, it’s something I’m passionate about. I’ve gone through the system here. Everything I’ve had — from my social life to my professional life — has come from hockey. I want to make sure I give those opportunities to other kids.”
Fry’s involvement with the Coyotes isn’t just making an impact on the kids she works with — her position signals an ongoing shift towards gender equality in the sports industry.
“As far as the job, I hope to see more women involved in pro sports teams, especially in the NHL,” she said. “I don’t think I got the job because I’m a woman — because I understand what I’m doing — but it signals to people across the country that we’re just as capable… [The Coyotes] have a lot of female leadership. It’s a nice balance.”
“It’s something I personally take a lot of pride in,” added Cohen. “We have the highest percentage of female executives on the executive team of any NHL franchise. When we’re building our organization, we’re looking for smart, passionate people who can help us get better. We’re always striving to give people opportunities they maybe wouldn’t have in this industry.”
Fry has already made strides by taking advantage of those opportunities with the Coyotes, but her work to elevate both the team and the sport of hockey in Arizona has just begun.
“I think within the hockey community, there’s a lot of support,” Fry said. “The challenge for any pro team is not just competing against other sports, but every other form of entertainment. So, we’re making sure we’re telling the story of our long-term vision, which is to be a part of the Arizona community for a long time, be active in the community, and tell that story every day to get people excited.”