Writer / Jon Shoulders
Photographer / Amy Payne
“The biggest challenge is realizing that it’s their life,” he says. “You have to know when to push them and when not to push them. It’s walking that fine line of trying not to push them into something just because I think they should do it and letting them truly experience something for themselves. It’s trying to step back and not always trying to give them the answers and sometimes letting them figure things out on their own.”
A native of Highland, Indiana, Fandrei met his wife Amy in Indianapolis after graduating from Purdue University with a degree in finance, and the couple was married in 2005. Between his job in the finance division with the Indiana Department of Child Services and heavy involvement in the extracurricular activities of his sons – Evan, 9, and Jack, 3 – Fandrei has little downtime, but he wouldn’t have it any other way. He currently serves as a parent volunteer for Evan’s Junior Fuel hockey league, regularly helping to set up the rink or running the clock for games.
“It’s been a lot of fun, and I actually started playing hockey last September in an adult league at the Fuel Tank in Fishers where my son plays,” Fandrei says. “I’ve gotten to know a lot of people that way. It’s a tight-knit group since the kids and families spend so much time together. The father of one of my son’s hockey buddies is actually the one who first told me I had been nominated for the Dad of the Year by my wife.”
For the past five years Fandrei has also been a coach in the Fishers-HSE Youth Baseball program and currently serves as commissioner for the kindergarten and pre-K leagues.
“I played baseball growing up so it’s the one sport I feel like I can give the most back to, and I love teaching the kids,” he says. “My youngest will also play baseball next year for the Fishers-HSE program. I get very busy doing all of these things but I’d rather stay busy than just sit on the couch and do nothing.”
Fandrei says flexibility and open-mindedness are major components of the balance he feels is so important for parents to strike.
“For example, my oldest sometimes needs to be nudged a little bit to get going, and a lot of times when I’m talking to him I’ll let him talk a lot because he’s very cerebral, and I’ll end up saying, ‘You know what Evan, you’re right – I didn’t think about that.’ Being open-minded is very important.”