In the following piece, notable baseball fans Patrick (The Boy Who Loved Joe Kelly) and Taylor (The Girl Who Loved Kiké Hernandez, who, for the purposes of this piece, is The Girl Who Loved Darcy Kuemper) become life-long fans of not only the sport of hockey, but the Washington Capitals.
The Boy Who Loved Joe Kelly: Two weeks ago, I couldn’t tell you a damn thing about hockey. Now, I’ve become a lifelong fan of the Washington Capitals, something I will pass down to my children and my children’s children. Before I get into our Caps fandom, would you like to talk about how the hockey thing transpired in the first place?
The Girl Who Loved Darcy Kuemper: Well, the story begins a little longer than just two weeks ago. During our time off from work around Christmas, we were looking for things to do in your hometown of Roanoke, VA. We stumbled upon very cheap tickets to see the Rail Yard Dawgs, a minor league team, and the rest was history – for me, at least. I was hooked instantly. I don’t have the longest attention span, so a sport like hockey which is highly stimulating and changes rapidly is perfect for me. I loved it so much that I asked (begged) to go for Valentine’s Day, and boy oh boy was it a night to remember. Not for that reason, get your head out of the gutter! You tell them.
The Boy: Not knowing too much about hockey, or what’s a good deal and what isn’t, we just grabbed the cheap seats. We were a few rows from the top and, about halfway through the first period, decided to leave our randomly busy row and move to the very top so we could stretch out. A few minutes later, someone walked up to us and said, “Hi, I’m Caleb Green, I sang the National Anthem tonight. I have two extra tickets just a few rows behind the ice and I would like to bless you with them. Would that be alright?” We were too stunned to speak. When we responded (or didn’t) with just total befuddlement, he showed us his Stanley Cup ring and said, “Don’t worry, I’m legit.” So…we followed him down to the lower level where he totally made our night!
The Girl: While following him down, it became abundantly clear that this guy was not only “legit,” but a total legend. He stopped every 10 feet for a hug, picture, fist-bump, or heartfelt “thank you” in response to his, literally, adoring fans. Turns out, he’s been singing the national anthem for the capitals for almost 25 years! He even sang the anthem at Obama’s first inauguration. Very “D.C” and very cool.
The Boy: I know it’s not that easy for sports franchises to gift first-time fans with experiences or gifts like the one we received, but our night shows what that kind of thing can do. I felt loved, appreciated, and, just like how Caleb put it, “blessed.” That simple act, an upgrade from the nosebleeds to the ice, made me feel like being a fan mattered to the Caps. I’m sure that they’re just like every other franchise in any sport, but this just felt like kismet. Why us?
The Girl: I will never know “why us.” The marketer in me thought, “maybe they went through their database of first-time ticket buyers that night and sorted by worst seats.” The optimist in me felt like it was just meant to be. He mentioned spotting us from far away and making it a point to find us, and only us. I don’t know what it could have been about us, but I am so grateful for the experience.
The Boy: We saw a loss. Turns out…this team totally sucks! Since that Feb 16 game, the Caps are 1-6 and, according to the internet, are on a downward trajectory. If it wasn’t for the respect the franchise owes the legendary Ovechkin, they would just go full rebuild. Instead, they’re half-in and half-out, but we’re used to that after watching the 2022 Boston Red Sox.
The Girl: It’s definitely a bummer to come in while they’re on the outs, especially after they won the Stanley Cup just a few years ago in 2018. We were in college at the time, just an hour away from D.C., and the hype was magnetic. I remember wishing so badly that I was a hockey fan, and more specifically that I was a Caps fan. Everyone wore their jerseys to class for weeks, the bars were always packed, and it’s all anyone talked about. Even if things are looking dismal right now, I’m happy to patiently wait for our moment to be in on the magic.
The Boy: First…we have to learn how the damn game works! I need Hockey For Dummies. Before we go, let me ask you…why ‘The Girl Who Loved Darcy Kuemper?’
The Girl: Listen, we all know that I love a hottie. I’m never going to be ‘The Girl Who Loved Alex Ovechkin’ no matter how great he is. T.J. Oshie is beautiful, but everyone is an Oshie girlie, so that’s not special. Above all though, it’s his smile. I can’t believe that he has the greatest smile I’ve ever seen while playing the sport statistically highest to result in the loss of teeth. I feel like he’s just my guy and that needs no explanation.
The Boy: But above all, he’s on the Washington Capitals – ALL CAPS BABY!!!
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