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(How I Became a [Female] Hockey Fan)!
I had always been a bit of a tomboy, more interested in playing sports with my younger brothers than playing with dolls or anything like that. My dad was an on-again, off-again hockey fan - I vaguely remember watching Hockey Night in Canada with him occasionally when I was about 5-6 years old. (For most of the rest of my childhood, we didn't have a working TV in the house - long story.) We had a board hockey game that we played all the time, and Dad would name the players after some of the old greats and give us little hockey history lessons.
However, nothing more might have come from all that if it wasn't for the fortuitous occurrence of 2 events which happened simultaneously in the spring of 1993. I was 12 years old and in grade 7, and one of the girls in my class was a huge Habs' fan (and a little obsessed with Patrick Roy!) and one of the guys in my class was a huge Leafs' fan. There were 15 girls and only 4 guys in my class (not very many guys took French Immersion back then), and none of the other 3 guys were into sports at all, so the Leafs' fan was all on his own against the girl, who enlisted all the other girls in the class to take her side and cheer for the Habs. (The guy was the class clown and a really annoying loser so it wasn't hard for her to get the girls on her side!) At the same time, my dad, after several years of not watching hockey at all, decided that the semifinals that year were interesting enough to watch. The teams were Montreal and Toronto, two original 6 teams, the Kings with Wayne Gretzky, and the Islanders, my dad's favorite team from the early 80's. So he borrowed a little black and white TV from a friend and I decided to watch along with him since I was hearing all this hockey talk at school. Of course, the Habs went on to win the Cup that year, and I was hooked.
Being in French Immersion, I was fascinated with all things French, including the Habs, so that helped. In school we had to read French books for 15 minutes every morning and all we had were kids' books since that was the level we were at. But one of the books was Roch Carrier's classic "Le chandail de hockey" (The Hockey Sweater) - once I discovered it, I think I read it every day for the rest of the year! At home, I must have driven my dad crazy with all the questions I asked - "Why is the referee blowing the whistle now?" "What's icing?" etc. etc., but he explained it all to me and I soaked it all up. Helpfully for my budding hockey obsession, the very next season we got an AHL team in my city, so I was able to watch professional hockey close up. (In those days before the Internet and without a TV 10 months of the year, it was kind of hard for me to follow my Habs too closely for the next few years. Not like I missed much!)
As a teenager I absolutely couldn't stand all those girls I encountered who were only interested in hockey for the hot players. I, of course, was not completely blind, and did notice the looks of the players on my AHL team, although I wouldn't consciously admit it back then. I tried really hard to block out those thoughts because I wanted guys to see me as a serious hockey fan and not some puckbunny fangirl. But age has brought perspective (I'm 29 - you'd think I was really old or something, eh? ) and I have come to realize that I can be a serious hockey fan and still appreciate the hot players, and I don't care anymore what guys think. My husband knows how much of a hockey fan I am (and fortunately for me, he's not too jealous!) and that's all I care.
Abby S. (from Somewhere in Atlantic Canada)Thats a really great story!!! THANKS for telling us that great story, Abby - I love it!!! I, as I'm sure many of us, can relate to eventually realizing that even us serious hockey fans can always take time to appreciate the players' attractiveness (whats the harm?!! And it makes the game so much more interesting!)!!
Don't forget, if you wish to submit your story, I kindly ask that you email them directly to me so they don't end up being repetitive for some of the readers. Also, if you don't want me to include your name, please let me know that as well (what I'll normally do is put your first name and last initial if I have it OR just your screen name).
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I also want to let you know I LOVE these stories (and so do alot of our readers) - I've always found it interesting no matter who the fan, so I'm enjoying ALL OF THIS IMMENSELY!! KEEP THEM COMING, but I ask that you email them please - THANKS!!!
Also, I ask that you please BE PATIENT as I'm still receiving TONS of stories (they'll be posted in the order I received them, to be fair). If you sent in a story, it will eventually be on the blog - I promise!! ; ) JUST BE SURE TO KEEP THEM COMING (the more the better!)!! AS A NOTE, I'm currently on stories I received back in November 2009!!!