Hockey fan farewell (until next season)


Courtesy of Aryauna Thompson

Although the Bulls’ season is over, my love for this game and the team is far from.

Dear readers,

It’s me. I’m back. I know it hasn’t been long since you heard from me last, but I have some news. The Bulls lost the elimination game Sunday evening, so it is with regret I must inform you their season has ended. What hasn’t ended, though, is my love for this game and my love for the team.

I must inform you their season has ended. What hasn’t ended though is my love for this game and my love for the team.”

— Aryauna Thompson, 12

I have three stories to share with you to demonstrate my love for this team. I mean, I have more than three, but I will only share three in this blog segment as not to bore you with 8,000 words.

First: I bought an overpriced hockey stick. Second: I had chance encounters with my two favorite players on the team. Third: The picture accompanying this story is on my graduation announcement.

Starting with the first, my overpriced hockey stick was purchased for a little under $30 but is now priceless to me. It is broken around the shaft of the stick and was when I bought it. Now, it has the signatures of 21 players dressing both sides of the blade. The night I bought my stick, I went after the game to get autographs from the team. It was simultaneously the most terrifying and amazing experience of my life. I had admired and grown to love these boys from afar for several months and now I got to meet them. In person. Up close. With me being the awkward mess that I am, I was mortified. Before I spoke to them, I took several minutes to work up my nerve and mentally prepare myself for what I was going to say. My favorite player, Nick Trela, came in first, and I could feel myself turn beet red.

I had to wait a few extra minutes to convince myself it was okay to talk to him. Once I built up the nerve, he spoke to me and signed my stick and was incredibly nice. Suddenly, my confidence spiked and I was ready to take on an army–a few hockey players didn’t seem so bad anymore. I was able to speak with each player who autographed the blade of my stick. Brendan West was super chill and made me feel comfortable. Trey Bagwell signed a baby’s forehead right before he talked to me. Nick Anderson and Alex Peterson were both very friendly. Gabriel Seger was intimidating. Not in a bad way–he was just so tall. Some were more friendly than others, but my admiration for the team only grew. My admiration for my favorite players grew exponentially.

Although he became my favorite player for his athletic ability (and his fight of course), he remains my favorite because of his down-to-earth attitude and his kindness.”

— Aryauna Thompson, 12

On to the second story. I have two favorite players–one defenseman, Nick Anderson who I spoke about earlier, and one forward, Nick Trela, the player that came into the autograph room first. I literally ran into Nick Anderson in the hallway one night. I saw him walking toward me, and it was like making eye contact made my hands lose functionality. Both papers in my hand and my autographed stick fell to the floor and he chuckled as I scrambled to pick them up. He was very friendly, but I will never live down that embarrassment. I swear my brain hates me. It says, “Cool person! We like him! Let’s show it by looking like an idiot!”

Part two of meeting my favorite players was far less embarrassing and included Nick Trela, also known as the one who boosted my confidence on autograph day. A few weeks after my mortifying dropsy/klutz experience, I got to wave at my favorite forward friend. (He is also the first person I saw fight–ever–which may or may not be the reason I liked hockey so much at first.) I made eye contact with him across the ice as he skated into the second period. Rather than immediately looking away as if it never happened as he could have done, he smiled at me and waved. My excitement level went through the roof as I waved back, and I know I yelled for my team a little louder that night. Although he became my favorite player for his athletic ability (and his fight, of course), he remains my favorite because of his kindness and down-to-earth attitude.

Part three: Rampage. The photo of me hugging Rampage does not have much of a story behind it, other than the fact it is on my graduation announcement, but it does hold extreme significance. Over the past several months, I have fallen in love with this game and have become extremely attached to the team. I now find myself yelling at referees for bad calls, listening to NASH ICON, the official radio partner of the Bulls and getting to games an hour early so I can watch the team warm up. Rampage is really the “face” of the team, and he is the best mascot in the NAHL. It didn’t feel right to leave this part of my senior year out of my announcement because it has become a passion for me.

I love the atmosphere, the energy, the community of Bulls Nation, the game and the team. Although I am saying good-bye, it is just for now. Because, dear reader, there is always next year, and believe me, I will be at as many games as I possibly can to cheer on my team.

Until next season,

Aryauna Thompson, the hockey fan