Friday, December 11, 2009

Where My Ladies At?

(How I Became a [Female] Hockey Fan)!

I’ve told my story about how I came to be a Pen/hockey fan elsewhere (although a somewhat more abbreviated version); but I’ll tell you.

I am in my early 40's. In fact, there is some anecdotal evidence that my mother went into labor while my father and brothers were at a hockey game in the Civic Arena. Since the Penguins didn’t actually start as a team until I was 9 months old (now you know what year I was born), I don’t get it but, that’s what my brother who is eleven years older than me tells me. Something about a Boy Scout troop being involved too, but I digress.

With three older brothers and no sisters, sports were a huge part of my early life. Not to say that I played or was really all that interested. Getting hit in the forehead with a baseball and never being able to run as fast as your much older brothers can kind of discourage you. But I do remember visits to my grandparents being scheduled so that travel occurred before the Steelers game and dinner had to be ready at half time. My preschool summer memories were playing under the bleachers as my brother played in his little league games. (Hockey was in there somewhere though, because I can remember my neighbor Mikey being taunted with chants of "Michael, Michael, motorcycle.")

At some point, I became somewhat anti-sports. Probably about the time that the star football player in my home room whom I believed to be only marginally literate was getting offered big money for college. This was somewhat annoying as I had been on the honor roll since the beginning of time and got something like $1000 from the Elks by way of scholarship. (But I’m not bitter.)

I had made a brief foray into hockey fandom during the Stanley Cup years of the 90's. I was recently graduated from college, living in my first adult apartment, trying to find "the one." The short trip was curtailed when the boy for whom I was willing to take an interest in hockey was spotted in the parking lot of a bar during the Stanley Cup Final kissing another girl.

My mother, who had been lured to the dark side, has been a sports fan as long as I can remember. No amount of non-committal "uh-huhs" or "oh reallys" put her off from the frequent reports of the happenings of her Penguins, Steelers, Pitt Panthers, PSU Nittany Lions, etc. I heard about the second coming of Mario Lemieux, AKA Sidney Crosby, from her. Slowly, I noticed her reports about the Penguins were changing. She had this almost childlike glee in describing Jordan Staal’s short handed goals or exciting close games.

Sometime shortly before this, I had finally married the love of my life. Get this, he was a jock. He played college football. It paid for his education and his law degree. He pretended not to be interested in sports because he knew of my aversion. We had long arguments about sports and my feelings about scholarships for sports versus scholarships for academic merit. (BTW, he’s one of the smartest people I’ve ever met.) One day I said, "Hey, mom’s really excited about this Penguins team and that Jordan Staal kid. Maybe instead of going to a fine dining establishment, we ought to go somewhere with a TV for dinner and check out a game or two." Well, I didn’t have to ask him twice.

And you know what? It was exciting. It was graceful. It was amazing. Maybe it was just the right time in my life. The younger guys were the same age as my nephews. Hell, the older guys were younger than me. They could do things on a couple of thin blades that even at my most agile I wouldn’t have been able to do while standing on solid ground.

Then there were the actual guys themselves, for the most part they are all: attractive; engaging; humble; well-spoken.

I may not have known all the rules, but I took the time to learn. I bought a kids book about the fundamentals of hockey from ebay.

Next came the Gary Roberts phenomenon. It was funny. It was fun. It led me to start reading thepensblog. That was a whole other kind of education. But there are some regular commentors there who really know hockey and express thoughtful opinions. There are some others who engage in the type of humor that, well, sophomoric is probably too classy a word to describe it. But you learn to take the bad with the good.

My new interest in hockey has created something that I never understood when I was a kid. It has given me something to have in common with my brothers and their sons. You see, my recently divorced brother in the DC area started attending Caps games shortly after I started getting into the Pens. Now, instead of my mother relaying information about my brother and his family from her phone call with him, I have emails and texts regularly. Yes, they are most frequently hockey related, but now and then there is real information about our lives too. After over thirty-five years (because that’s when he left home to go off to college), I suddenly have frequent contact with my brother for the first time since I was five years old. Now Mom asks me what I've heard from him.

My 80 year old mom, who was visiting with another brother in New England for the holidays, introduced hockey to two of my nephews by way of the Winter Classic. (Yes, NHL, your marketing attempts really do work.) One of those nephews is now here in Pittsburgh for college. He took advantage of the student rush, got handed a pizza by Max Talbot and made it onto the PENSTV coverage (08 version). And I heard about all of it – from him as it happened. Then I saw the video.

My husband, a Lemang of the first stripe, has no problem with me rotating pictures of Kris Letang with pictures of my nieces and nephews as cell phone home pages. He cares about stats; I care about story lines. But somehow, we both enjoy the heck out of hockey. If this makes me a, ahem, puckbunny, I really could care less. And I really, really, really, try not to yell SHOOOOOT!

- stoopidful

What an AWESOME story. Thank you SO MUCH for sharing!! I just LOVE how it brought you and your family closer. It's a really great story!!

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).

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've been receiving TONS of stories in addition to the ones that are already posted in some of the "comments" sections here that I'm hoping to re-post. 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!)!!


Maureen said...

Thumbs up... WAY COOL STORY!

EHisCDN said...

that's a really great story. I can totally understand your frustration at jocks being handed stuff while you have to work your butt off to get a measly academic scholarship, it's not fair but that's life! My sister is a high caliber athlete and my whole family is sports oriented so I've learned to just suck it up. I may not be good at playing sports but I definitely love watching and cheering for them (in fact my mum suggested I become a sports lawyer...)

I'm glad hockey has brought your family close together.

Val said...

What a great, great story! Thanks for sharing it and posting it...

Unknown said...

That's a great story!