Sincerely, the hockey fan

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Sincerely, the hockey fan

The Amarillo Bulls are currently ranked second in the NAHL.

The Amarillo Bulls are currently ranked second in the NAHL.

Aryauna Thompson

The Amarillo Bulls are currently ranked second in the NAHL.

Aryauna Thompson

Aryauna Thompson

The Amarillo Bulls are currently ranked second in the NAHL.

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Howdy,

My name is Aryauna Thompson. For those of you who do not know me, I am generally recognized for my academics, writing, musical participation or quiet and agreeable personality. Note: nowhere above is sports fan listed. That is about to change.

I am proud to say my newfound intensity for sports revolves around my hockey team.”

— Aryauna Thompson, 12

I know what you’re thinking. I’m from the Texas Panhandle! I finally must have realized my hidden passion for Texas football, baseball or really any warm weather sport. No. I am proud to say my newfound intensity for sports revolves around my hockey team.

Slight disclaimer: I was not kidding about my intense love for this sport, which is slightly inconvenient, living in the Panhandle. Brace yourselves.

Here is how it all started. I went to the military appreciation game a few months ago to support a future Marine and only planned on watching him swear in with the other poolees. Instead, I was completely entranced by the first period and begged my mom (who went with me) to stay for the remainder of the game. Now, I find myself yelling to the point my vocal chords (do not) literally bleed (but it feels like it), dancing in the stands, singing with the music, shouting at the other team, straight screaming at the referees, cheering for players by name rather than number, buying overpriced shirts, and talking my family into attending multiple games each weekend my boys are set to kill it in cowtown.

Dear readers, I am not a loud person, nor am I in any way aggressive. That all changed last weekend. ”

— Aryauna Thompson, 12

Over spring break, I had the great pleasure of attending not one, but two Amarillo Bulls games. Two nights in a row, I was able to go and support my boys as they faced one of the most aggressively aggravated teams in their division. I do not hate many things or people, but I hate the Odessa Jackalopes. Almost as much as I hate the head referee from both Friday and Saturday night.

Dear readers, I am not a loud person, nor am I in any way aggressive. That all changed last weekend. After countless bad calls, slashing, high-sticking, tripping, holding, and misconduct, all called on US despite the fact the Jackalopes were playing dirtier than we were, I found myself yelling to the point I could put a drill sergeant to shame. The girl who once did not even know the difference between baseball and softball was now yelling at the referees, “Oh, so you’ll call THAT now? My bad, I thought THEY were the ones who hit OUR boy in the face! You STINK!” I may have been a bit excitable.

Leaving the topic of aggressive sports-watching, before I fell in love with the game, I fell in love with the atmosphere. Hockey is universal–there is something exciting in the game for everyone from ages 8 to 82. And there is no hockey like that in the Texas Panhandle. Crowd-wide chants, fast-paced action, the best mascot, RAMPAGE, Texas traditions, George Strait, limbo contests, chuck-a-puck, dance parties, and a team which holds multiple records and is currently sitting second in the entire NAHL make boredom impossible for spectators of any age or interest.

Each time our boys score (yes, OUR not MY, I’m letting you join my hockey passion club), the fans throw red balls onto the ice and George Strait’s “Big Ball’s in Cowtown” plays over the speakers. The fans sing and clap along, cheering for our boys, while young boys skate onto the ice with buckets to collect the balls. It is tradition for our team, and (as an added bonus) it is incredibly frustrating for the opposing team. We conclude our cheers with Pucky, a stuffed pig which ziplines over the ice to signal the end of the celebration break. My Bulls shirt sports this jam, and I wear it proudly to every game.

The players are full of heart–almost as much as their fans.”

— Aryauna Thompson, 12

Each period, the crowd is encouraged to participate in events such as dance-for-your-dinner, chuck-a-puck and on-ice games. Dance-for-your-dinner is sponsored by various local restaurants. The most enthusiastic dancer in the audience gets a free meal. Chuck-a-puck is an activity in which fans throw numbered pucks onto the ice where targets are laid out, each baring a different logo. Local businesses sponsor the event, and the puck closest to the target wins a sponsored prize. Even if you have no interest in hockey, please don’t ever look prizes and free food in the mouth.

On to the records then. Forward Logan Jenuwine now holds the Bulls’ record for most goals scored in a single season with 51–and playoffs haven’t even started yet. In addition, he has managed to score three hat-tricks (three goals scored by one player in a single game) thus far this season and is hardly the only player to have completed a hat-trick. The team is dynamic and full of energy. Their plays are calculated and intricate. Their attitude is fun and determined.

I will always be a hockey fan because of this team, and more importantly, I will always be a proud member of BULLS NATION.”

— Aryauna Thompson, 12

The players are full of heart–almost as much as their fans. The players stay after games for autographs, high-five young fans on their way off the ice, and involve the audience in all they do. The boys love their fans, and we love our boys. We celebrate, we protest, we mourn losses–together. Everything is connected between the players and the fans. The community is very supportive, uplifting, and bonded. I recognize several faces and chant along with them each time I enter the bull pen.

My boys sparked a previously unknown passion within my heart and there is no going back. In fact, I have already set up a plan to subscribe to a streaming service so I can watch them dominate when they are out of town, and when I go off to Tarleton State. I will always be a hockey fan because of this team, and more importantly, I will always be a proud member of BULLS NATION.

I encourage you to check out this heart-filled game and the super cool fans. Look for me each game day with my George Strait shirt supporting the Amarillo Bulls and my love for this game.

Sincerely,

Aryauna Thompson, the hockey fan

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