Friday, June 24, 2011

Where My Ladies At?

(How I Became a [Female] Hockey Fan)!
I'm the Georgia-born daughter of a Texas father and a North Carolina mother. I say y'all, I'm allergic to shoes when the weather's hot (and boy is it ever here), I've seen snow (REAL snow, not the dustings we get every few years) only twice in my entire life, and I can't ice skate worth crap. But I LOVE ice hockey.
Here in the South we grow up on NASCAR, baseball, and college football. Hockey wasn't even a word in my vocabulary until I was 11. That was in 1999 when the Atlanta Thrashers were born. The conversation at the dinner table went something like Dad saying "Atlanta has a new hockey team" and Mom saying "Has Ted Turner lost his damn mind again?" My dad started watching the Thrashers on TV, but I didn't give them a passing glance. I wouldn't notice them again until I was about 15.

That was the first time I sat down with my dad to watch a game. It was also the first time I noticed a certain Russian forward some of you may know. This was my reaction to Kovalchuk the first time I saw him on TV (I hope you don't mind while I borrow from my own blog for a second):

...being a teenage girl full of estrogen and not raised on hockey, I immediately focused on his good looks. He was (and still is) strikingly handsome and even though I didn't know a damn thing about hockey at the time, from what I saw on TV his game play looked amazing. After that moment I wanted to know more about the sport, beyond "hockey's what my dad watches on Thursday nights."

He captivated me and, as I would learn later, every Thrashers fan in Georgia. Sadly, he's not a Thrasher anymore and he hasn't been my favorite player in a long time (that honor goes to Slava Kozlov and always will), but I can't talk about how I became a hockey fan without talking about Kovalchuk.

When I was 16 I FINALLY got to attend my first live game at Philips Arena, which brings me to the biggest reason I love hockey: my dad. For Christmas, Dad bought a pair of tickets to a Thrashers game and asked me if I wanted to go with him. He looked nervous, unsure, and I heard a lot of "I really hope you like the game..." I could tell it was really important to him that I enjoy the game and he wasn't 100% sure I would because I'd disliked just about every other sport he'd tried to get me into.

The game was on December 26, 2003 against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Neither Dad nor I had been to a live game before. Heck, we hadn't been to Philips Arena before. We sat front row in the upper deck on the attack twice side. Before the game started Dad and I sat with a program between us, him showing me the players' stats and explaining penalties and powerplays. Then the game started...

The roar of the crowd, the sounds of puck on stick and body against glass, Kovalchuk's infamous slap shot resounding off the opposing goalie's pads, the sheer speed of everything about the was all so much, almost too much, to take in. I left the arena that night in love.

The Thrashers won 3-2 (if I remember correctly) and I still have the program from that game. My dad and I make it a tradition now to go to a game together in December. The only year we've missed since is the year I was studying abroad in England.

Although my love for hockey has expanded to the entire sport, I will always be an Atlanta Thrashers fan first. As I've learned since 2003, they're not an easy team to love. There's no Stanley Cup banner in Philips Arena and some think there never will be. Instead we have one lonely 2007 Division Champions banner, but I am so unbelievably proud of it. This season we lost our franchise player, we're once again not in the playoffs running (but close!). The management is horrible, the ownership is worse, and attendence basically sucks. I know a lot of people will say hockey doesn't belong in the South and the Thrashers are proof. But against all odds, I LOVE this team and can't shake the optimism that they'll continue to get better and come out on top one day.

Currently, I'm working to combine my love of hockey and my passion for writing into something viable. I want more than anything to be a sportswriter so I can report on and write about the one game I love more than any other. So far I've carved out a small corner of the internet for a hockey blog called "Hey Y'all Hockey" ( It's not much but it's a step. I don't think being Southern and loving ice hockey has to be a contradiction.

~ Ally P.
WONDERFUL story, Ally ... I love hearing this kind of stuff (the blog was intended as a "safe haven" for us all and I originally started writing it because of the "guilt" I felt about crushing hard on the players and am now proud to say I'm fully recovered from the guilt and full on LOVE hockey players and am pretty proud to tell everyone

And the stories can ABSOLUTELY come from ALL FANS (not just Pens fans) and THEY ARE ... the blog features a little more of the Pens only because that's who my FAV is (and mostly what I know about), but I try to focus on all hockey and all players, so I welcome all fans.  Its actually better when the stories are different just so we all can understand each other (or maybe there's someone out there just like you and can relate) ... I think thats the great thing about telling everyone your story!! : )

I'm SO GLAD to hear that you gained confidence in your knowledge ... LOVE THAT ... I want to be that for all female fans, so they don't have to choose between the love of hockey and the love of the players ... we can have both, why not?!!!!  Everyone becomes a fan for SOME REASON ... THANKS AGAIN for your story, Ally!!
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).  ALSO ... IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO UPDATE YOUR STORY IF IT'S ALREADY APPEARED ON HftL, PLEASE FEEL FREE TO EMAIL ME!!


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 January 2010!!!

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