Feb. 26, 2014
Notre Dame, Ind. -
By Josh Dempsey
The transition to the college life for most people is a difficult one. One is forced to leave the comfort of the life they once lived and find their niche at school. This involves the inevitable, and often awkward, practice of creating an entirely new friend group. A very select few have the privilege to come into college with a group of friends, and even fewer have the privilege to go to school with a group of childhood teammates and life-long friends. Senior defenseman Kevin Lind of the Notre Dame hockey team is one of the few with this privilege.
As many athletes will attest, friendships made in the locker room and on the ice tend to be more profound than those made at the lunch table or in the classroom; the bonds formed by a group of guys competing and training day in and day out create something more closely associated to brotherhood than just friendship: you play, you fight, you yell, but at the end of the day, you would do anything for the teammates sitting next to you on the bench and skating stride by stride with you on the ice.
Growing up, Lind had the unique opportunity of playing in the same youth program as current Notre Dame teammates Garrett Peterson, Robbie Russo and T.J. Tynan. Little did they realize that they would all be suiting up in same locker room of the Compton Family Ice Arena and competing as members of the Fighting Irish.
"I had brothers that were four and five years older than me, so from the time I started to crawl, I had a stick in my hands," Lind says. "I started out playing Mite hockey for the Orland Park Vikings, and I was actually on that team with Garrett Peterson and T.J. Tynan. It was a great time, and we were able to win a Mites Silver Sticks Tournament together."
As Lind progressed in size and maturity, his talent on the ice became more pronounced.
"When I was in seventh grade, I started to take hockey more seriously," he says. "I thought I could make the jump from AA to AAA hockey. That was when I tried out and made Team Illinois, one of the top programs in the state."
This was one the many rungs Lind climbed on his way up the hockey ladder.
"In my sophomore year of high school, I made the choice to try out for the Chicago Mission," he says. "Both T.J. Tynan and Robbie Russo were on that team, so I was back playing with T.J. again."
After being drafted by the Chicago Steel of the USHL (a Tier-1 Junior A league), Lind was called up to the team and forced to leave the Chicago Mission, but his story with Russo and Tynan was not over yet. It would continue thanks to his inclination toward Notre Dame.
"My older brother, Matt, was a student at Notre Dame, and we used to come up to games at the Joyce Center all the time," Lind remembers. "The distance from home was a big plus to me. I talked with my dad and said if I ever get the opportunity, this is the place where I want to be.
"[Associate] Coach [Andy] Slaggert talked to me and told me he wanted to have me in for a visit. T.J. and Robbie had already committed, and Coach Slaggert kept an eye on a lot of the Chicago prospects, so I had that in my favor."
Lind's decision to attend Notre Dame became official just before he traveled to the Czech Republic with the Team USA U-18 squad. Fittingly, T.J. Tynan was a member of that team as well.
"I feel like me and T.J. have really grown together. Literally," Lind says. "I've always been a head taller than him. A lot of those childhood friendships split and go their separate ways, but that wasn't the case with me and T.J.
"I got to play with Russo when we were on the Chicago Mission together. I mean, we were all pretty much best friends back then and still are. We work out together over Christmas and summer break, and we see each other all the time. The chemistry is great, which is evident since me and Robbie have played defense together for the past two years.
"Playing on those teams as a kid really gave me great opportunities. I mean, I met guys who I'll probably be best friends with for the rest of my life."
With three of them having been drafted by NHL teams - Lind with Anaheim in 2010, Tynan by Columbus in 2011 and Russo by the New York Islanders in 2011 - there is still a chance their careers can land them in the same locker room once again. With the way their paths have unfolded thus far, it wouldn't be too surprising.