[Editor's Note]: This is the seventh in a series of user-submitted articles to Fear The Fin, detailing readers personal history following the San Jose Sharks. For archiving purposes this account has been republished. It was originally authored by Mr. K (an author on this website) on January 22, 2009; the initial Fanpost can be found here.
[Image Courtesy of CT Gray]
My first Sharks “memory” is super vague.
My first game was during the first season at the tank, 93-94. I was 11 or 12. Pretty sure it was a win… I remember being satisfied, and I don’t remember asking “What’s a tie?” No memories of players’ names – my dad wasn’t a big hockey fan, so not much help to be had in that department. We sat in the uppers… lots of food to be had.
The biggest impression I had, however, was that I loved the flow of the game. Don’t get me wrong – I like baseball, but the game is slow. Exciting, but slow. I had never seen anything like hockey before – and I knew it was my favorite game. I didn’t even care about the score – it was fast enough to keep me entertained, so that goals didn’t provide the only excitement. Can’t recall if there was an actual fight – I seem to recall roughing, and my dad explained that it was a way of indirectly protecting one’s own teammates. Seemed reasonable to me….
Through the years, I would attend probably one game a season – whenever my dad was given tickets (we were a bunch of home bodies, so going out of our way to purchase tickets never really entered anyone’s head). Owen Nolan was a favorite of mine – I remember being excited whenever he came to the ice (and I loved the fact that he was born in Belfast – I was a geography fiend). Vinny Damphousse was another. I distinctly remember training myself of the difference between Mike Ricci and Mike Rathje (one was a defenseman, and one was unspeakably cool and ugly). I remember how fast Marco Sturm was – lightning on ice.
But my hockey I.Q. was (and compared to others, still is) pretty dim… though it was improving. Because I always associated sporting events with my dad, my attendance was dependent upon him being there, too.
Then came college – I was divorced from all sports on account of my studies. Even the Giants’ World Series run (which was in town – I went to SF State) was on the periphery of my existence. The Sharks (including their 2004 Conference Final run) were marginalized as well. I cheered without knowing what the heck was going on – there were (gasp) more important things for me to focus on. I actually think I only made it to one game during my four years at college… I watched maybe two additional ones on T.V. I’m probably exaggerating, but that’s how driven I was in school – and probably why I’m a teacher now.
Post-lockout, I was a new man – girl in hand (alas, no more), I had a new better-looking surrogate for my father, and we delighted in our hometown team’s success, which has yet to abate since 2005. I've gone from one game a year to about 25 a year, plus road games (which are a blast - you really must make a trip with the team one of these days). I occasionally dress up for games, as well (note my avatar), not to mention all the signs I make to tick off other teams (or bolster my own).
As a final note, I just have to thank the San Jose Sharks for their renewal of my civic pride. San Francisco will always have a cultural leg up on its larger neighbor to the south, but between October and (fingers crossed) June, the South Bay (specifically the part hemmed in by W. Santa Clara and N. Autumn) is where I want to be.