Story about Larry Hendrickson
It’s been said, the measure of a man is how he makes others feel when they’re around him. Larry Hendrickson learned that early in life. Through friendships, family, mentorship, ministry, work, coaching and community, Larry lived that until the day he died.
The Hendrickson Foundation (HF) began organically in discussions between Larry and friend, US Hockey Coach-In-Chief, Mike “Mac” MacMillan, about an extreme lack of participation within disabled hockey programs in Minnesota. This lit the fire that led to the eventual creation of Larry’s, Hendrickson Foundation, and their mission to grow the game of hockey by making it accessible to ALL people, despite any challenges they may be living with and creating a stronger and more inclusive State of Hockey. Aut inveniam viam aut faciam, a latin proverb meaning, “I shall either find a way or make one”, became a sort of mantra for Larry and the foundation. Better yet, it became their promise to the community.
We would be hard pressed to choose a word or words that define Larry, his larger than life persona or his many gifts because so much of what defines this great man is how he made people FEEL, not something so easily summed up. But certainly, a feeling that is identifiable by every person who felt the weight of his impact. Words like, strength, fortitude, grit, perseverance, honor, benevolence, selfless and conviction are some that come to mind. We would be remiss not to mention, a little bit tenacious too. Larry Hendrickson exuded strength from his pours. His mighty presence and vast strength of body, mind, heart and soul effected people. A lot of people. He changed people. He changed them for the better.
Coach Larry was born and raised in South Minneapolis, graduated from Washburn High School where he excelled in sports and academics, followed by earning a Masters Degree from the University of St. Thomas. Larry landed himself in numerous leadership roles through his adolescent and adult years, always by way of service to people in the community. Husband and father of 4 children, high school history teacher by day, peer ministry leader and varsity hockey coach by night…Larry was involved. With each venture he took, he invested himself and gave all, especially through the game of hockey.
Larry’s impact on the game of hockey, the hockey community and both able-bodied athletes and athletes with disabilities is monumental. He started early, as head coach of the Richfield varsity hockey team, then led Apple Valley varsity team to a championship as head coach, followed by shorter stints at Benilde-St. Margarets and Buffalo High School. Larry’s many roles within the Minnesota High School Hockey circuit earned him a place in the Minnesota Coaches Hall of Fame. The Hendrickson name in and of itself became synonymous with the word “Hockey”.
He is probably best known for his time with friend and fellow hockey legend, Herb Brooks, as the unofficial strength coach for the 1980 USA, “Miracle on Ice”, Olympic Gold Medal Hockey Team. Larry served vital roles as the strength coach for the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota North Stars with friends and fellow hockey legends, Herb Brooks and J.P Parise.
Larry ran a multitude of organized camps and clinics, on and off-ice for USA Hockey and Minnesota Hockey. He led USA Hockey accredited coach certification classes, and he opened up the infamous training space, “Larry’s Garage.” The makeshift gym in a garage, open to ALL – legends, NHL-ers, college players and high school kids alike, was created solely for the purpose of supporting athletes and helping them become their best selves. Revered stories and memories were born in that spiritual space. Beyond anything it was a space where people were mentored and inspired by Coach Larry Hendy. “The prize is worth the price,” a Coach Hendy quote that hung on the walls of the garage and now hangs in the minds of countless athletes.
Amidst his busy body, do-all lifestyle, Larry was also able to be present in the lives of his family. He “married up” as he liked to say about his wife “Saint Jane” and together they raised 4 strong and successful kids, all who play hockey. Julie and Christine continue to play in women’s leagues, Danny and Darby both played at the University of Minnesota and Darby, Minnesota Mr. Hockey ‘91, went on to play in 518 NHL games and is now the Assistant coach for the Minnesota Wild. Their character and success is a living testament to Larry.
The Hendrickson Foundation became, without a doubt, Larry’s lifework. At the core was the mission to GIVE back. Nobody will go without. Money will never be the reason someone does not play. Nobody will be excluded. Hockey is for everyone. The entire Hendrickson family worked to develop and grow the foundation. Rightfully, Larry was always at the tip of the spear, giving ALL of himself to this foundation and the programs it supports. Larry always said it was the athletes with disabilities who were the MOST inspirational and influential figures in his life. HF was as much about supporting and strengthening programs for those athletes as it was about supporting the athletes’ families, and creating awareness in the community. HF is important. HF IS changing lives through the game of hockey. It has brought a resounding amount of joy to so many people. Larry said it best, “It’s important to everyone. We all need to belong, we all need to relate, we all need to share. When I walk in a room, I am important, and when someone else walks in a room they’re just as important. Everyone needs to be respected and needs to learn to respect others and make a positive difference in each other’s lives.”
When Larry passed away, the outpouring of words and stories from the community, both hockey related and otherwise, were staggering. These tributes could certainly become their own set of chronicles. Larry had a massive zealot but the stories shared could have never been predicted. Larry struck at the heart of people. He made people feel valued and helped them believe in themselves. He was family to everyone.
Larry’s lifework became his dying wish – the Hendrickson Foundation. Fortunately, Coach Larry knew this mission was a team effort and he surrounded himself and the foundation with exceptional people. It takes a team. So, we carry on. We do it for him, moreover, we do it because of him. Grow the game, share the joy, change more lives. The Larry impact lives. Hockey Changes Lives.