I grew up in a sports centric family, but because we lived in Texas - we were as far from hockey as one could get. I knew the big names of course. And being a child of the 80/90s, one of my favorite Nintendo games was the Ice Hockey game. But even with the Aeros existing locally, none of it was enough to bring the sport into my life.
And then I met a guy from the east coast. Our relationship started as a friendship in 2013/14 which was not a good season for the Isles. This man was always so cranky, and often blamed it on his ridiculous hockey team. I'm a Houston fan, so I can completely relate to the devastation only a certain sports fan can understand, but hockey seemed so disconnected from me. I didn't understand how it affected him this way. It certainly didn't feel like something anyone could feel such passion over. The Mets? Sure. I get it. But the Islanders??? What is an Islander, even? So bizarre.
Oddly enough, around this same time one of my kids received free tickets to an Austin area AHL game. I contacted my Isles loving friend for a quick & dirty explanation of the game. It was the most amazing live sports event I had ever attended! I couldn't believe I had been missing out on this my whole life.
My friend and I began discussing hockey and the Isles most evenings and before I knew it, I was reading LHH, subscribing to center ice, and even ordered an Isles shirt or two. We'd watch games together and he'd patiently explain so much to me and answer all my questions. I'm pretty sure understanding the NHL point system took an entire season for him to explain and complain about. My guy is old school. He hates shoot outs and was a big fan of home whites. And uses words like "sweater".
The following two seasons were magical for me: Playoffs! Learning the history of this amazing game and team. Attending an Isles game!! And most importantly, falling in love with this amazing man who brought this team into my life. He often apologizes for making me a fan, especially this past season, (ugh), but I'll hear none of that silliness.
I'm asked quite a bit how I became an Islanders fan by my fellow Texans - and I love telling them that "Oh, I know a guy".
Just like the Isles, our relationship has its highs and lows. We've got location issues. A very small fan base. And more baggage than any hockey equipment room could store. But we have heart and we don't give up. I believe in that 5th cup just as much as I believe in us.