FGCU Hockey Player Finds Hope in Uncertainty

Hockey Community Supports Local Player After Finding Brain Tumor


Lindholm supporting his team at practice.

Abigail Muth, Editor-in-Chief

On Feb. 14, FGCU hockey player Kyle Lindholm had an unexpected seizure in his apartment in Estero, Florida. He was then rushed to Lee Health Hospital where he was told he just had a panic attack, and that it was nothing else he should be worried about. 

For Lindholm and his girlfriend, who was with him at the time of the seizure and went with him to the hospital, this was a concerning diagnosis. He had never had a panic attack before and had no history of anxiety. In addition to this, the hospital did not do any brain scans or extra tests. Nonetheless, they went home and tried to live with what had just happened. 

Three days later, they went to visit family in Cape Coral where Lindholm had another seizure on the lawn and was laying unresponsive for several minutes. Lindholm’s girlfriend then took photo and video evidence that what was occurring was not simply a panic attack. 

Lindholm was once again rushed to the hospital. This time, they did an MRI and found a tumor and brain bleed. For him and his family, the news was shocking and unexpected.

Lindholm and his family are unaware of what this tumor and these events mean for him physically, but that does not mean he will stop fighting and living his life to the fullest.

“I’ve said it a billion times by now but every day it’s a step forward. There’s always a light at the end of the tunnel and it’ll buff, you know, every day is a step forward, each day getting better,” he said. 

A couple of days after being admitted to the hospital, and after the doctors deemed it safe, Lindholm went in for open brain surgery.

Lindholm in the hospital after surgery.

“It was fine, honestly. Just a big nap on a random Wednesday. Woke up with a headache a little bit and all my boys came to support me,” he said. 

Lindholm found inspiration in his team and the hockey community who supported him through this hard time. The Florida Everblades put up a money board for him at one of their games after the surgery in order to raise funds to help cover his medical expenses. 

“The community, I had never seen anything like that,” he said. “I had never experienced so much support.” 

In addition to the local community reaching out, Lindholm’s own team showed support in many ways including shaving their heads in unison after his surgery, and some teammates even got tattoos of his hockey number, seven.

The team put stickers on their helmets with Lindholm’s number in support.

Senior Wyatt Englemann, who plays forward on the team, said, “Everytime we see his face, we’re all just so happy that he’s conscious and talking to us, because all kinds of things were running through our heads. That’s got to be the biggest positive, is that he’s back and going to make a full recovery.”

In the initial days after the second seizure, Lindholm’s family was not able to be there due to living in Colorado. His parents and sister flew to Florida as soon as they could, but in the meantime his teammates, coaches and girlfriend were there to support him. 

“Our initial reaction was shock because you don’t ever think it’ll get to this point and then it’s obviously scary when your first thought is, ‘how scary really is this?’,” said Assistant Coach Eric Mabie. 

But for Lindholm, keeping high spirits was not only a way to stay brave for those around him, but to keep himself feeling as normal as possible. 

“Just striving for that normalcy, you know,” he said. “Anyone would go crazy with the amount of unknowns I have in my life right now.”

Less than seven days after undergoing open brain surgery, Lindholm was back in Hertz Arena to watch his teammates practice and to cheer them on. Some of the very first questions he asked his doctor after being admitted to the hospital and after the surgery included, “when am I going to be able to play again?” and “can I still get on a plane to go to the finals in Boston?”

The doctors told him he would at least be off the ice for the rest of the season last spring, but that did not stop him from going to every possible practice to encourage the team and keep as sharp as possible.

Lindholm supporting his team at practice after they shaved their heads in support.

“That following Monday, he was at the rink with us watching practice and came into the locker room giving hugs to everybody,” Mabie said. “Just seeing him away from the hospital was really nice.”

Lindholm was able to travel to Boston for the finals in the spring, not on the ice but still in the stands cheering on his teammates. He said he hoped to not only bring inspiration to the team, but to be able to travel with them gave him a sense of normalcy. 

“I think we were all surprised that he came to Boston,” said senior, Spence Van Tiem, who plays forward on the team. “Some of the guys said ‘dude go home and rest and take care of yourself’ but he was adamant that he would come to be there with us. And that just speaks to his character. That’s how he is as a person.”

One of the hardest things for Lindholm, however, was the emotional damage done throughout this process. His tumor was located in the front temporal lobe of his brain, which is the area of the brain which helps manage emotions among other things. One of the seizure medications he was put on also has a side effect of causing major mood swings. 

“My mood swings were just zero to 1000. You’re happy then you just get so overwhelmingly sad or mad,” he said. “Everyone around you is affected by that. So it was hard.” 

Usually, Lindholm was the player who was always able to raise everyone’s spirits, on and off the ice. So for him, this was an extremely difficult transition. 

“I mean, his attitude caused us all to take advantage of what was going on,” Van Tiem said. “He was in such good spirits all the time. Even when we went to visit him in the hospital, he was glowing with happiness.”

A tumor board met on June 1 to try to figure out what it was that caused those seizures and what the tumor was, but for Lindholm, there is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding the topic. The financial toll which this has and will continue to take on him and his family is a great one. 

Lindholm and his family are now supporting the Dawg Nation Hockey Foundation, an organization that supports hockey players going through hard times.

Lindholm is now back on the ice and getting stronger everyday. He is excited to be able to participate in practices this summer and is now back on the roster for the upcoming fall semester.