April 11, 2009

Once upon a time in the Czech Republic

It was the beginning of the year 1998. It was February. Winter. Snow everywhere. And there was a girl. 11-year-old girl who was in her 5th grade. She was a typical girl of her age – she had some friends, she loved to draw or paint, she loved her plushies and puppets. She didn’t know much about hockey. Because she didn’t care… yet.

The big change in her attitude to this sport was about to come. And what was it? What made her to pay attention to hockey? Yes, of course it was the Olympics in Nagano. Those who remember that tournament know, that the Czech Republic won the golden medals. For the first time. The whole country lived for hockey at that time. Since the time zones, it was always in the morning when the games were played. People at work, children at school… everyone was hooked. Including the small girl… yes, I know you’ve found out it was me. I remember the semifinals against Canada (with Gretzky, Roy and many other tremendous players). I was at school and we were supposed to study new things but not that time. Every single class in the school had the TV turned on and everyone’s been watching the game. I still have the Czech flag I’ve made by my own only from paper and painted the colors using the crayons. I can remember the scary silence when the shootout was about to begin and I can hear the enormous noise after it, when we knew we were in the finals. The school building almost collapsed. Since then I was crazy about our national team and I wanted more and more hockey.

My first experience with live hockey was when my dad took me to see our national team playing in my hometown. It was part of the event which is called „Euro Hockey Tour“ and its Czech part called „Ceska Pojistovna Cup“ (for more information click here). I was totally amazed. I was so glad that I could see my heros with my own two eyes. And I was that lucky to get the Czech flag and a picture signed by Robert Reichel. Those are moments I will never forget.

When the time went by I started to figure out that the national team is far not enough to satisfy my desire for hockey. Yes, I loved them, but I wanted more. And that’s how I became a fan of my hometown team – the Zlin hockey club. It was so easy to fall in love with them because they were (and still are) wonderful. I began to attend the games on regular basis and I became a member of their official fanclub last year. I love my boys in blue & yellow so much! I have so many amazing memories which are connected to them. The year 2004 when we won the Cup, the season 04/05 when many great players from NHL came here to play for my team (including Roman Hamrlik or Petr Cajanek – both natives from my city), or my teenage days when I was having crush on so many players (yep, you could say it sounds like I was a puckbunny, but no… I was anything but puckbunny). I was wearing my team colors everywhere, I was escaping from school in order to be at the arena on time so I could buy a ticket for upcoming game (when I was a seasonticket holder in few seasons things were much easier). Everytime I am at the game I cheer, I sing, I jump, I scream, I do anything to show my support to the team.

Did I miss something? Of course! I missed the very important point and that would be how I became an NHL fan and why did I choose the Lightning? This story is so ridiculous but it’s totally true. I started to pay attention to the NHL in the year 2000. My brother had this PC game – NHL 99 and I gave it a try. God, I was hooked! I had so much fun playing the game. You would expect that I was playing for the Lightning but I wasn’t. I chose the Ducks (Mighty Duck at that time) because of one funny reason. My name is Katerina (with weird pronunciation – you know, Czechs), it’s very common name here and one of the nicknames for that name (like Michael can be called Mike) is “Kačena” (I could write “Katchena”) and that word is also used as a name for female duck. Funny, isn’t it? And I loved the old logo of the Ducks. So… my first NHL team I liked was Anaheim actually. But I wouldn’t call myself their fan because I didn’t follow them as much as I follow the Bolts now. But I still like them, I wish them all good and I was happy to see them with the Cup.

In the year 2001 my dad went to US, to Florida, to Tampa Bay. He went to the Lightning game as well and when he got back home he had some gifts for me (as always everytime he goes to US) and one of them was very special – it was the Lightning hat! I was so happy about it and I fell in love with it immediately. I started wearing it everywhere. I was being recognized in the high school by that hat. Everyone called me: “that girl with the hat”. And at that time I started to follow the Lightning and eventually became their fan. How funny is that?

So… My love for the Lightning has grown and now it’s huge! I can’t imagine the league without them, I can’t imagine I could ever give up on them. Even though I have some weakness for the Flyers they can never take place in my heart which belongs to the Bolts for eternity.

1 comment:

  1. That is so very cool. Thank you for sharing! I need to write my story, too, I think.