The Olympians next door

Nothing About Kendall Coyne shouts soon-to-be Olympian. That is not her style, at least not as she horses around before a youth soccer game in Acton. She’s here to cheer on 6-year-old Callen Beveridge and his teammates. Despite the early Saturday morning start, Coyne welcomes this break in training with the US women’s national hockey team. In a life focused on winning gold, time with her local host family, the Beveridges, offers some normalcy. As Callen waits to take to the indoor artificial turf, Coyne tosses him in the air over and over. “That’s my workout for the day,” she jokes. Then Coyne pulls out a pink elastic and helps 8-year-old Gusty Beveridge with a ponytail. The blond-haired trio — Coyne, Callen, and Gusty — could easily be mistaken for siblings.

But Coyne, 21, first met the Beveridges in August. At the time, she wanted a host family close to the national team’s training base at The Edge Sports Center in Bedford, yet also removed from the competitive atmosphere at the rink. With nearly six months full of long practices and long road trips scheduled before February’s Sochi Olympics in Russia, the fast, elusive forward sensed she would need an escape from the pressure. Jen and John Beveridge offered Coyne accommodations in their one-bedroom, one-bathroom carriage house in Concord. At home with the Beveridges, Coyne plays street hockey with the kids, seeks advice on mental preparation for the Games from Jen, who competed professionally in tennis, talks about Russian culture with John, who worked in Moscow for two years, and joins everyone for family dinners.

“The first time I walked into the house, I saw Callen and Gusty playing sports, and they reminded me of when I was a kid with my brothers and sister,” says Coyne, who grew up in Palos Heights, Illinois, and will resume her college career at Northeastern University in the fall. “We were always playing sports and always wanting to have fun. If I didn’t want to be with a host family, I would have lived in an apartment. . . . This is probably the best decision I’ve made thus far.”

Read the full article at the Boston Globe →