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Fandom found

Walker Carey | Tuesday, January 24, 2012

For a good portion of the first 18 years of my life, I did not consider myself a hockey fan. Sure, I paid attention to the sport during the Winter Olympics and Stanley Cup Finals, and I knew about star players like Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Patrick Roy, but I never really paid too much attention to any particular team or regular season outcome.

This all changed for me in 2009. I have always been a loyal listener of Chicago sports radio, and during the early months of that year, I began noticing that an unusual amount of time was being devoted to talk about the Chicago Blackhawks. This caused me to look at the standings to see that the team was doing quite well. I remember I decided to tune into a game against the Minnesota Wild and was mesmerized. Not only did I enjoy watching the Blackhawks win, but also thoroughly enjoyed watching hockey. For the rest of the season, I paid close attention to the team and was captivated by its run to the Western Conference Finals.

The next season, my level of interest in the team and the sport increased even more. I found myself regularly watching games on television, I determined Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews was my favorite player and I skipped class to watch Team USA do battle in the Winter Olympics. When the playoffs began in the spring of 2010, there was hardly anything that could have stopped me from watching the Blackhawks play. I watched as the team advanced all they way to the Stanley Cup Finals, where they met the Philadelphia Flyers. My father, brother and I made the sojourn to the United Center in Chicago to watch the Blackhawks beat the Flyers 6-5 in the first game of the series. 11 days later, I watched from a couch in Treasure Island, Fla., as Patrick Kane got a shot past Flyers goalie Michael Leighton to not only give the Blackhawks the Game Six victory, but also the series victory. I had only been a fan for a little over a year and had already seen my team win the Stanley Cup.

My hockey fandom is currently at its greatest peak. I get every Blackhawks’ scoring update sent to my cell phone. I try to watch as many games as possible. I will listen to games on the radio if the team is playing while I am driving. The past two winters I have been enthralled with HBO’s fantastic 24-7 series as it documents the events leading up to the Winter Classic for both participants. The increase in my fandom has been so dramatic that I now even watch games that do not feature the Blackhawks. If I had been told in 2008 that four years later I would be interested in the outcome of a New York Rangers-Pittsburgh Penguins game, I would have probably passed out from laughing so hard.

Becoming a hockey fan has taught me to always try giving things a chance because there is a possibility that the thing may become very important to me. I believe that is a motto everyone should adopt.

Contact Walker Carey at wcarey@nd.edu

The views expressed in the Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.