[Editor's Note]: This is the seventeenth 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 mymclife on January 24, 2009; the initial Fanpost can be found here.
[Image Courtesy of Section223]
Well, I guess its my turn now. I was going to post a much shorter version earlier, but my internet wasn't working, and in my boredom I just kept adding more and more until I was left with the enormous amount of text you see below. Sorry.
There has never been a point in my life that the Sharks have not existed. They've been this constant teal-colored presence, showing up on bumper stickers and license plate holders everywhere I go. But it wasn't like I grew up bleeding teal, despite living in San Jose most of my life.
When I was younger, I regarded the Sharks the same way I regarded the 49ers - I would root for them to win, but I honestly didn't care what happened one way or another. I knew of some players, and who Sharkie was, but that was about it. My perception of hockey was that there was a lot of fighting and nobody had any teeth. Realistic, I know.
My main sport was baseball, largely due to my parents enrolling me in Little League in the second grade. Unfortunately, the double whammy of being both the only girl in the league and completely terrified of the ball made me drop out after two years of being stuck in the outfield. That didn't matter - I loved the San Francisco Giants for years after that. Barry Bonds's 73 homers was the highlight of my life at one point. I still remember thinking how perfect it was that the Chicken Dance Elmos were being sold, as they were used to taunt the pitchers who walked Bonds.
I starting growing out of baseball, though, as I went through middle and high school and the steroids scandal came out. The Barry Zito contract just sort of put it over the top; I haven't watched an MLB game in years. The betrayal from a professional sport turned me off of all professional sports for a few years; for a while, all I watched were my brother's little league games. Those twelve year olds were pretty damn competitive; my brother made the All Star team and ended up winning his division and went onto sectionals. Unfortunately, they lost to a team that went all the way to the round before the Little League World Series, but that's another story for another sport.
Hockey still managed to trickle through my anti-professional sports phase, though, especially the 2004 Conference Finals run. I was in seventh grade at the time, and in my PE class everybody was talking about it. And I mean everybody. There was a little twist to it, though - my PE teacher? He was from Calgary, a born and bred Flames fan. Every day, the class would slowly devolve from warm-ups to hotly debating which team was better, the Flames or the Sharks. When the Sharks lost, he held it over our heads for the rest of the year. Only just now do I realize I have Dan Boyle and Brad Lukowich to thank for preventing him from becoming any smugger. Yet another reason to like those two!
I probably would have started following hockey more earlier if the lockout didn't happen, but it did. I vaguely remember some sort of group banding together for the Sharks, but that was eighth grade, and I was more concerned with important matters such as trying to survive choir while being tone deaf and the apparent amazingness that were Maroon 5, Good Charlotte, and Bowling for Soup.
I have to admit, last year was when I fully got into the Sharks. It was the first half of junior year, I had a ton of homework but didn't want to do any, and so I tried to find any excuse to procrastinate. I started wandering back into my dad's room just to talk, and more often than not he was watching hockey. My dad has always been a huge Sharks fan - when I was little, he bought me this plush Sharkie toy that had a stick and everything. It was actually quite cool. He wore his Sharks Starter jacket everywhere. I suspect that his continual use of the teal might have had a brainwashing effect on me. I'm not complaining, though. And, I only just found out about this, he actually played in the Sharks Annual Golf Classic in 1995. And won. Anyways, my point is my dad loves the Sharks.
So I started watching with him, asking him all these questions during the game about the rules, why the whistle was blown, what all the lines were for - as well as what the other kind of lines were for - and so on. He'd explain it to me, telling me about Sharks greats and background information about the players (see #19? That's Joe Thornton. He's the best passer in the NHL), and with every game I watched I learned more and more (see #25 on the Ducks? That's Pronger. Boo him every time he touches the puck). Initially, every game that I watched the Sharks lost, which really sucked. I didn't actually see them win a game until they started that amazing 11 game win streak, but by that time I was hooked. It didn't matter if I needed to procrastinate or not; it was fast, it was exciting, and it was in HD.
My first game after my hockey epiphany was amazing - my dad managed to get tickets to Game 5 of the Calgary series. It was almost a full circle, from lazily paying attention to the WCF in 2004 to being a rabid fan for the WCQF in 2008. The building was loud, the Sharks won the game; it was just perfect. Even in the far away parking garage it was amazing; all the horns were honking in celebration of the win, causing the entire structure to become deafening.
The thing that turned me from a "GO SHARKS!" fan to a "Holy crap, Douglas Murray is a PPG player since he scored his first point this season" fan (a completely true piece of information, by the way) actually was because of that 4 OT Dallas loss.
At school, in the class that is most colloquially known as APUSH, there were three of us Sharks fans all sitting in the back. Two of them had followed hockey for years (one's favorite players are Nabokov and Irbe - impressive, since Irbe stopped playing for the Sharks when we were 5), and I was the newbie trying to keep up. It caused me to research the hell out of hockey, so I could know what they were talking about (#1: Who is better, Brodeur or Roy? #2: I would say Roy. He has better numbers, and more success. #1: But Brodeur hasn't even finished his career yet! He could easily pass Roy in a couple of years! Me: ...). However, I didn't know about our mutual love of hockey until that Dallas series, and even then it was because of one reason and one reason only: a day after the loss, a guy in our class came in wearing a Stars jersey. We all yelled at him and subsequently shunned him, revealing to each other that we all liked hockey.* It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
*Don't be surprised that it took us that long - it took me and one of those same fans (now one of my closest friends) six months of talking to each other daily to figure out that we went to the same ultra-small, private elementary school.
Over the summer, I ran away with it. I used the brain momentum from school to learn not only about the Sharks and their new players, but players on other teams, historical hockey events (thank you, youtube), and how to cope with the endless barrage of summer Stanley Cup predictions. That last one was the hardest to learn. I convinced my dad to buy tickets to a Sharks/Blackhawks AWAY game, on the premise that I was going to apply to Northwestern and University of Chicago (I hope to do the same for every other college I visit this year, and - coincidentially - all the ones that I applied to are less than an hour away from an NHL franchise). I've gone to four games this season, although two have been preseaon.
And now? I'm just hooked. I have my home jersey hanging in my closet, a hat hanging on my bedpost, a signed Irbe jersey hanging on my wall, and numerous Sharks shirts from Borders folded in my dresser. And life is good.