Most high school coaches are not allowed to have personal relationships with players, but on the Notre Dame Prep division 1 hockey team, that is not the case.
For coach Zac Fryer and son AJ, a junior forward, that is kind of impossible. Zac Fryer has been coaching his son for around 11 years and coaches not only both of the NDP hockey teams but also AJ’s travel team. Having your dad as a coach is not that rare when it comes to travel hockey, but for most high school teams, it is not as common.
The Fryers have been a father-son hockey duo for a long time now. Coaching your own kid could affect your relationship in many ways. Both believe that this has strengthened their relationship; Coach Fryer even said that the reason he started coaching was “mostly to just be close to my son and share my passion for the game of hockey.”
When asked how having his dad as his coach has affected their relationship, AJ Fryer stated that “it has made it stronger because we have memories and amazing experiences to share.”
When Coach Fryer was asked the same question, he said that “we have been together for so long we have changed quite a bit over the years. Today I believe we have a high level of respect for our abilities and I believe we both enjoy trying to win and build success as a team…”
When you have the same coach for so many years, you start to notice their best qualities. When your dad has been your coach for the past 11 years, you definitely start to notice. AJ said, “My dad is probably the smartest hockey coach I know. He knows exactly who to put on the ice and how hard to push kids. I can confidently say that we would not have won the D2(A) state finals game without him running the bench.”
The same can be said when you have coached the same kid for 11 years; you start to notice his best qualities as a player. When Coach Fryer was asked about his son’s best quality, he said, “His competitive drive and ability to be a great teammate. He loves to win and he loves to win as a team. His ability to be a great teammate is due to how unselfish he is and how much he wants to win.”
If you ever watch AJ play, you can see how much he does want to win but also how much he really cares about his team. Coach Fryer said,“There is no better competitor than AJ – I love watching him compete.”
Being the coach of your own son’s team can be very beneficial to the team because you know the kids on a more personal level. Coach Fryer said that “My passion is unmatched as a coach because I want the best for all the players but my son matters so much that I want to always be my best so that his team is successful. The success of the team contributes to his success as a player and a person.”
Fryer wants a “great experience for AJ, [so] I do my very best to create teams that truly care for one another competitively and personally. That purpose is a benefit to the families that play for me – as bad as I want to win, I care more about creating great moments for the players on the team in part because I want that for AJ.”
AJ also said that he likes “that we can talk about the game outside the rink and I can help him come up with ideas and practice which is pretty cool. I like sharing such memorable moments with him like winning states…”
The Fryer duo will be taking on the high school hockey season again this year and will hopefully bring another state championship to the school.