There are a number of clichés I could launch at you today, waking up after such a loss for our team. But with the same reverence we use to describe the purpose of this group of women, we also follow our Vegas Golden Knights into the nooks and crannies of their lives in Las Vegas. Why is it that we are so attached to our team? Why does it feel like the loss suffered by these players feels like a human loss to us?
I’ve thought about this throughout most of last night, when my husband said to me, “You never shouted this loud when the Hawks were in the playoffs.” I responded by saying, “Because I married into that team. I didn’t have a choice.”
It is true that my husband made a hockey fan of me 23 years ago when I saw him skirt across a gym floor playing floor hockey with his fraternity brothers. I had to pretend that I knew what was happening. Those were the pre-internet and cell phone days, where I had to actually read a book to figure out what this sport entailed. That went onto Chicago Blackhawks playoff games, getting married, moving across the country and raising three girls in the sport where – at the ripe old age of 2 – our middle one would shout from her daddy’s lap, “GO HAWKS!”
Even living in Vegas, we still rooted for our home team. My husband more so, because that was his thing. I had students that used to razz me about their team, the Kings, kicking my team’s butt. All of this took place before the Knights were even in utero. It was a given that my husband and I were hockey fans. No one questioned my allegiance to “our” team or threw me under the bus because I lived here and, obviously, was not a season ticket holder for the Blackhawks. I was a fan, and that’s all anyone knew about me. It was part of what made me the adult version of Amy.
But now, I have my OWN team, one that someone didn’t tell me I had to love. As a mom, I fell in love with my brand new babies when they were Vegas Born. In a lot of ways, I feel like a mom for this team, too. When what is ends, we long for the elation we felt in what was. There is a loss felt.
- I know in the time I’ve lived in Las Vegas, I haven’t belonged to a group where I felt passion and commitment to this extent. It’s been exhilarating for me to meet so many women and read their stories, to come across paths of people I normally wouldn’t have. We connected because of hockey here regardless of which side of town you lived in or where your kid went to school.
When you are a lady hockey fan you only want to know two things from lady strangers: where did you get that shirt and who’s your favorite player? I found women, much like myself, were rooted in the love of the game and the love of the players. It wasn’t just because they were good looking, but because these players were reachable. Women like to give time and energy to the things they can identify with.
How many of you see Deryk or Marc-André at the park with their kids? Have you seen Jon Merrill grocery shopping at Albertsons? Yeah, and we do those things, too. Here are these down-to-earth guys doing life as we do. Players take their summer, travel, go back home, spend time with their families. We didn’t get to say goodbye at T-Mobile or at that last watch party. We just didn’t get closure. There is sadness in knowing those relationships are going to take a little break, and some may end.
- We just love the things we love. And when we love, there is passion and fire behind our eyes. I know my quest for life and positivity has blossomed over this last season. I have a personal reason as to why. After facing the most difficult time in my life, that has aligned almost exactly with this season, I found more than one irony between the Knights’ wins/losses and my life. My love for them grew when I wasn’t sure if I had any love left in my heart!
It was almost as if the seasons’ success and failures were the denouement of my own story. My husband and I had a very troubling year, personally. I didn’t know if we were going to come out onto the other side or not. Every other day presented either a victory or a major loss. It seemed 20 years of being married to a cop had become too much for both of us, and we just didn’t know if we would survive our trial. Stress from work, professional relationships, raising children, and everything piled on top of each other. The loss of love I felt had me pretty near rock bottom.
Then entered this lady named Katie, who just said, “Hey, you wanna help?” Heck yes, I want purpose! As we learned more about each other, it seemed we were similar in the ways that make things cohesive and different in the ways that can drive ultimate success.
But then…out of left field, I was hit with unexpected health news. I couldn’t have planned for it, NEVER thought it would happen to me…(ahem, Mr. Haula) but it did. Cancer. Right in the smack middle of all of this, cancer. Now, it was the best kind and I was treated and cleared and am back to the grind again. But I got knocked back down again. Katie was there though, and my family. She was there quietly rooting for me, making me laugh at things that others probably would’ve been afraid to joke around about. When I found myself at the time not working and utterly melting into my bed, she pulled me out (even if it was un-showered and still in my jammies) to film some videos with a chicken named Alex Kluch, or strategize on how we can engage more people on social media.
This team pulled me out. I found an exhilarating purpose I never saw coming. I, all of a sudden, had a love that couldn’t be contained. This common love of hockey helped me feel the love in my heart, at a time where I felt just numb. There is only one happiness in life, to love and to be loved.
So when we talk about last Knight, don’t talk about the loss that we feel. Instead, talk about all of the reasons it gives us to smile. Think about how amazing our future looks going into Year 3. Give accolades to the women who have lifted you up, who you might not have known without this team. When you talk about last Knight, smile and nod, and remember all of the reasons that brought us to feeling the way we do…about last Knight.