A Southern Girl + Ice Hockey = Lots of Confused People

Opinions, Thoughts + Rants / Thursday, February 21st, 2019

I always get asked similar questions when I talk about my obsession with hockey: “Why hockey?” “How did a girl from Georgia get hooked on hockey? And how did you find the Pittsburgh Penguins?” “Oh, are you from Pittsburgh?” (I wish!) Because I’m constantly talking about my love for hockey and my favorite team in the world – hello, I started a blog all about that love – I’m used to hearing these questions pretty frequently. They’re honestly pretty good questions. How did I develop a love for hockey? Why do I love the Pittsburgh Penguins? Will I ever move to Pittsburgh? (One can only hope!)

How did a girl from Georgia get hooked on hockey? And how did she find the Pittsburgh Penguins?

The year is 2009, basically the end of 09 and the start of 2010. And it all started with a boy. Sorry, y’all, this boy doesn’t get a name! If you’ve been a teenager, you know that you have a new crush every other day and, for a good many people, you’ll fake interest in something to get their attention. Since I grew up in a college football town, I genuinely did like sports and going to sporting events, even though I wasn’t much of a football fan. Because of this, it wasn’t too difficult to learn more about ice hockey to gain this guy’s attention. I started watching SportsCenter on ESPN to see hockey highlights, and soon learned that ESPN is not a fan of ice hockey. What I did learn was that the 2010 Winter Olympics were fast approaching and that NHL players would be a part of the Games. By the time the Olympics started in February 2010, the boy was gone, but I continued to watch hockey and was keeping up with the Olympics. I hadn’t yet grasped on to a team yet, but I was enjoying watching any game I could find on basic cable and learning more about the game. One evening after the Olympics ended, I found myself watching a random game and noticed the scores scrolling on the bottom of the screen. A team name stood out to me – Penguins. My thoughts: “WHAT?! There’s a team called the Penguins? Penguins are my favorite animal!” After an extensive Google search, I was hooked on this perfect team and all that they were doing. (And it still took until the 2010 Playoffs for me to figure out that the Penguins had won the Stanley Cup the year before.)

My first selfie in my first Penguins jersey. 2011, I think?

Really? That’s the story?

Yes, everyone, that is my short, sweet, and to the point story. A boy that I liked when I was 17 years old mentioned that he liked hockey – who am I kidding, he probably didn’t and only mentioned the word “hockey” one time in passing – and I became hooked. The boy left, thank goodness, but my interest in hockey stayed around and grew more and more each season. I guess I’m proof that everything happens for a reason. Silly boys may come and go, but hockey is forever. (New tagline for my blog!) I actually have a meet-cute story with my first serious boyfriend where we bonded over hockey and our first date was watching the All Star game. But yes, I am proud to be a shallow teenage girl who starts watching a hockey team because they’re named after my favorite animal. I’m now a shallow woman in her late 20’s who continues to like that same team because I look super cute in their team colors! …well, there’s a few other reasons why I still love them.

I loved going to see the Gwinnett (now Atlanta) Gladiators play when I lived in Georgia. Opening day of the 2012-13 season.

Why hockey?

Honestly, this is a question I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to answer perfectly. I cannot describe my love for hockey in words. I’ve been interested in the game itself since I first started watching. Game play is very smooth, it’s fast paced (and games don’t last four hours), and it’s incredibly exciting. I’m also drawn to the passion. Hockey culture is filled with passion. Every time I watch a game, whether in person or on TV, I’m overwhelmed with a sense of passion from every person involved – players, coaches, media, fans. Every person involved is devoted and excited and could not imagine any other place in the world that they would rather be than where they are in that moment. It’s an amazing feeling, one I really can’t describe in words.

I am a much happier person when I leave a hockey game. Some people might try to argue that as “yeah, you just did something fun. Of course you’re happy”, but it’s so different than that. When I am at a hockey game, I know that’s where I’m supposed to be – a feeling of belonging to something. I remember having that feeling for the first time when I was 18 years old and went to my first minor league game. I honestly have only felt that way when I’m around the hockey culture, whether at a game or around other fans or sitting on my couch (with the Penguins biggest dog fan, Stark) – I know without a doubt that I belong there in that moment. And I want to continue to belong there. I crave being around the ice and the excitement and the intensity. I would honestly go to a hockey game every day, if I could. Would it get boring and lose its excitement? Maybe, but for the first time ever, I’m okay with taking that chance.

I like sharing my passions with the world. Maybe you’ve never watched hockey and you’re thinking “Wow, those are incredible feelings. I want to experience that.” and I’ve just tricked, I mean encouraged, you into watching or attending your first game. Maybe you’re a huge hockey fan and you’re thinking “Yes, that’s exactly how I feel! She gets me. Let’s be BFF’s.” and, of course, I would love to be your BFF! But that’s why I started The Life of Alana. It’s gone through some changes over the past few months, but first and foremost, it’s always been where I wanted to share my passion and love with everyone. It was my way of being myself and maybe making some friends in the process. It was opening up a space for people and letting them know that they belong here. And also I just love to write about the things that make me happy and this post really made me happy.

Lots of love (and Go Penguins!),


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