EDITOR'S NOTE: April 15 is World Art Day, so we're bringing you this article from March 29 about Seattle's Stefan Frei, not only a high-level goalkeeper, but a talented artist as well.
SEATTLE — As the MLS hiatus continues and people around the country are encouraged to practice social distancing, Stefan Frei is doing what he can to keep himself as close to game shape as possible.
The Seattle Sounders goalkeeper has a treadmill, weights, a medicine ball and a pull-up bar that he’s using to train from home, and while it can’t replace the reps he’d be getting at an actual training session, he says he’s feeling as close as he could hope to the condition he was in before the MLS season was suspended after just two weeks amid the coronavirus pandemic.
After he’s done training, though, Frei has time on his hands, which is where the famously multi-faceted goalkeeper’s interests outside of soccer come in.
“With the self-quarantine starting, for me it was immediately almost like an offseason where I don’t have a game on the weekend,” Frei told MLSsoccer.com over the phone on Friday. “So, let’s get to work. Let’s knock some stuff out.”
Growing up in Switzerland, Frei found himself enamored with the street art and graffiti on underpasses and freight yards during his train commute to school and soccer practice. That inspired him to start drawing, but mostly as a side-hobby.
That changed in 2009, when his mom and brother got him a pen tablet that allowed him to draw digitally. Frei is also an avid gamer, and video games used to be his main means of escape from the often-stressful life of a pro goalkeeper. But as he began to take art more seriously, he found it offered similar benefits.
“I quickly learned that with the stress of being a professional athlete, it was a really nice outlet to kind of rebalance myself,” Frei said. “When there was difficult times, [it allowed me] to spend a couple hours completely separated from that, maybe from a mistake I had made.
“I can focus on this line or this opacity and how this acts with that, and just completely forget about everything else. It really helped as a professional athlete in terms of staying healthy mentally. As the years went on I decided at this point I could be self-taught, I don’t have to go to college, I can just make it my passion and educate myself and try to further myself as an artist and that’s what I’ve done.”
Last year, Frei started his own company called S24F and established a website to feature his work, which he describes as “geometric subtraction" -- a style reminiscent of the type of street art that inspired him growing up.