Here I sit, the first week of June, 2018 a Golden Knights fan. Never before in my life have I actually cared what was happening with sports. When I played Trivial Pursuit, back in the day, I could be held up from winning for hours by asking me sports questions....baseball question? The answer is Babe Ruth. Ping Pong? China.... football, soccer, hockey, tennis, basketball, etc? Deer in the headlights look.
I have waited on Chris and Tim from the Golden State Warriors, the Olympic Dream Team, and had no idea who they were. My manager couldn’t understand my complete and total lack of awe and information. I couldn’t believe it was more important to talk to me about them than let me get hot food out to big guys who were hungry......
We went to A’s games and one memorable game at Candlestick. We went to see the Harlem Globetrotters a couple of times. I had a friend who liked minor league baseball, so we went to some of them. My parents thought we needed to be exposed to different things, like sports and the Japanese Teagarden. The games were fun-in a totally social sort of way.
When I attended UNLV, the Running Rebels were a big deal...Final Four, number one college team. I thought part of my job of going to school was to support the teams....I was still in my trying-to-be-normal phase... the Rebel’s football team was horrible, and I apparently was complaining regularly (after seeing one game and choosing to be otherwise occupied for other games) about my high school team being better.
Turns out (while I was still in my trying-to-be-normal phase and paying some attention, even though I had no idea what was actually going on-I just yelled when everyone else did) my high school team WAS better. As it happens, anyone who knew about football had heard about DLS. I still had no awe or information.
I went to a girls Catholic high school whose sibling school was De La Salle High School. They were still in the process of becoming the powerhouse they became with a twelve year winning streak of 151 games...apparently the most consecutive wins of any team anywhere, ever. It was a crazy kind of culture, the guys LOVED Coach Ladouceur, and unless it was game day, the whole school was “oh yeah, we have a football team....as opposed to “ our football team has a school....”.
The movie “When The Game Stands Tall” which came out in 2014, was about DLS, their streak breaking game and the aftermath of that and how they returned to win again. One of the things that came out in the book I read after watching the movie, twice, was that Coach Lad was also the religion teacher and had the guys writing contemplative papers about what phrases from the Bible meant to the team, to their life, to the person they were growing into.
That movie sent me on a conscious, contemplative journey of my life in high school and after. I came to see and agree with John Madden when he says “You realize it’s not just about the players or the coaches. It’s about community. It’s about religious beliefs. It’s about everything that’s important in life, and it’s about the combination of those things. You’ll be left wondering whether that combination will ever be put together by anyone again.”
At that point, I was willing to say IF I had a team, it would be De La Salle, under Coach Ladouceur. That did not mean I actually started tracking their games and progress, nor can I tell you anything more about how football works...
So, when an NHL team got approved to be here, it didn’t change my world. I listened to all the hoopla and the name contest and the stadium concerns and pretty much thought, “I really just don’t get it. Okay people are excited, yeah them.”
1 October happened, and I knew the Knights went into hospitals and got seriously involved in the community. I knew there was a game that night, I didn’t realize it was the Knights last pre-season game. I didn’t realize that their first season game honored the departed and the first responders. I didn’t realize that they thought of themselves as misfits and cast-off’s. I realized all of that in May.
I did keep hearing about this guy, Fleury-partially due to the fact that Paul and some friends of ours were all from PA and the friends are serious Penguins fans.
Paul was watching the playoffs, hoping it would be Knights vs Penguins. The Penguins got eliminated, but he was loving watching the skill and speed of the Knights. I would be reading in the same room, and would occasionally look up when there was a lot of noise.
One night there was a lot of noise, and I ended up seeing the team being interviewed. Blah, blah, blah, professional sports talk....then this guy Schmidt was interviewed. He had a smile on his face like a 5 year old at Christmas- he couldn’t wipe that grin off his face for love nor money. They interviewed some more...blah, blah, blah....then this guy with a smile that lit up the screen was interviewed...turns out it was Fleury. I thought, “huh, those two exude joy, I could watch more of that”. So, I stared paying a little more attention.
In very short order, maybe the same day, maybe within 72 hours, I heard the interview with the owner who talked about education, integrity, honor, community-on and off the ice. It sounded like a knights of the round table code and the prayer of St Francis of Assi. It gave me goose bumps. The final thing that brought me to be a Knights fan was watching Fleury pat the goal post and talk to it, clearly saying thank you.
WOW! Joy, gratitude, honor, integrity and community....now THAT I can get behind completely.
And now I’m also learning something about hockey...periods, not quarters, icing, etc. Everybody who knows me is shocked and entertained at my journey with the Knights. And that’s a tale for another day.