Loving Hockey in the South

Loving Hockey in the South

Y'all, it ain't even cool.

I was born in Riverdale, GA. I was raised in Newnan, GA. Now I study at the University of Georgia. But nothing makes me feel less southern than when I see the looks of confusion on people’s faces when I tell them I’d rather go to a hockey game than sit in a football stadium.

It’s been an unfortunate few years for hockey fans in Georgia. After the Thrashers moved away from Atlanta, the only hope we had left for a semi-professional match was the minor-league team, the Gwinnett Gladiators. I’ve been to a few of their games and they’re good, but it just doesn’t compare to the NHL. Nothing really ever does. And with minimal to no TV coverage, I’m forced to decide between shoddy, low-quality, fifteen-second clips on YouTube or take a seat in a rowdy sports bar with the risk of the game not even being shown. I end up being so out of the loop that I don’t even have a favorite team; if someone’s playing and I can find it on TV, I’m going to watch it. Penguins, Blues, or Stars, it couldn’t make less of a difference to me. Hockey is hockey, and hockey is great.

I’m lucky enough to go to UGA as a hockey fan, as the UGA Ice Dawgs are the 2016 SEC Champions, and are on track to own 2017 as well, currently undefeated. I go to their games whenever I can, and if I can’t make it you can bet I’m finding a crappy Facebook stream of it. Hockey is such a scarcity south of Virginia, so I take whatever I can get. I’ve even ended up dragging a few friends to the games with me; it’s hard to say no when I’m driving and the ticket only costs two dollars. However, I’ve been pleasantly surprised that they’ve enjoyed the games just as much as I have—well, maybe not just as much—even though their knowledge of hockey is minimal to none. It’s a sport that’s accessible to everyone—when I explain it as “essentially soccer on ice” it tends to make a lot more sense to newbies, and although that description isn’t entirely accurate, we’ll let it slide. (Get it? “Slide?” Like ice? …I’ll see my way out, thanks for your time.)

I have found a few fellow southern hockey fans throughout my life, although many of them aren’t really southern; they came here for university and actually hail from northern states. But either way, being able to talk to anyone about the sport is good enough for me. It’s so rare to find someone who actually enjoys hockey that I’ll take whoever I can get. Well, within reason. Some hockey fans can be a bit too…intense outside of the rink. But I digress.

I’m not knocking other, more popular sports in the south. Football and baseball have their merits, and hell, even NASCAR is a commendable sport, but as soon as I walked into my first Thrashers game, way back in 2008 when they played the Blues, I was never the same. I remember watching the players glide across the ice, knock into one another, and maybe knock out a tooth or two (as a kid that was my favorite part…who am I kidding, it’s still my favorite part). I remember getting way too into it—I was an arts kid, so sports weren’t my thing—and screaming into the center of the Phillips Arena. I felt a sense of belonging there, even as a young child. It has continued into the present, whether I’m at a Gladiators or and Ice Dawg match.

Even though it’s not the most popular here, fans undeniably make up for it in team spirit. The hockey community is strong and, despite its small size here in the south, it is no less real and no less passionate. Hockey is hockey, no matter its location, and no matter its location, hockey is amazing.

Cover Image Credit: http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/sites/default/files/styles/article-gallery/public/m-10351.jpg?itok=o_YO8eTB

Popular Right Now

8 Reasons Why My Dad Is the Most Important Man In My Life

Forever my number one guy.

Growing up, there's been one consistent man I can always count on, my father. In any aspect of my life, my dad has always been there, showing me unconditional love and respect every day. No matter what, I know that my dad will always be the most important man in my life for many reasons.

1. He has always been there.

Literally. From the day I was born until today, I have never not been able to count on my dad to be there for me, uplift me and be the best dad he can be.

2. He learned to adapt and suffer through girly trends to make me happy.

I'm sure when my dad was younger and pictured his future, he didn't think about the Barbie pretend pageants, dressing up as a princess, perfecting my pigtails and enduring other countless girly events. My dad never turned me down when I wanted to play a game, no matter what and was always willing to help me pick out cute outfits and do my hair before preschool.

3. He sends the cutest texts.

Random text messages since I have gotten my own cell phone have always come my way from my dad. Those randoms "I love you so much" and "I am so proud of you" never fail to make me smile, and I can always count on my dad for an adorable text message when I'm feeling down.

4. He taught me how to be brave.

When I needed to learn how to swim, he threw me in the pool. When I needed to learn how to ride a bike, he went alongside me and made sure I didn't fall too badly. When I needed to learn how to drive, he was there next to me, making sure I didn't crash.

5. He encourages me to best the best I can be.

My dad sees the best in me, no matter how much I fail. He's always there to support me and turn my failures into successes. He can sit on the phone with me for hours, talking future career stuff and listening to me lay out my future plans and goals. He wants the absolute best for me, and no is never an option, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to get me where I need to be.

6. He gets sentimental way too often, but it's cute.

Whether you're sitting down at the kitchen table, reminiscing about your childhood, or that one song comes on that your dad insists you will dance to together on your wedding day, your dad's emotions often come out in the cutest possible way, forever reminding you how loved you are.

7. He supports you, emotionally and financially.

Need to vent about a guy in your life that isn't treating you well? My dad is there. Need some extra cash to help fund spring break? He's there for that, too.

8. He shows me how I should be treated.

Yes, my dad treats me like a princess, and I don't expect every guy I meet to wait on me hand and foot, but I do expect respect, and that's exactly what my dad showed I deserve. From the way he loves, admires, and respects me, he shows me that there are guys out there who will one day come along and treat me like that. My dad always advises me to not put up with less than I deserve and assures me that the right guy will come along one day.

For these reasons and more, my dad will forever be my No. 1 man. I love you!

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

Giannis Antetokounmpo And Christian Yelich Have Put Milwaukee Back On The Map

Two small market teams making sure the world knows who they are


"MVP" is currently being chanted around the city of Milwaukee and the people of Milwaukee aren't just talking about one person. Giannis Antetokounmpo, a forward for the Milwaukee Bucks and Christian Yelich, an outfielder for the Milwaukee Brewers. Giannis is on the path to winning this year's NBA MVP and Yelich, who happened to win the NL MVP last year, is showing no doubts on potentially becoming this year's MVP as well.

Both the Bucks and the Brewers have struggled in the past few years. The Bucks finished their 2013-2014 season with a record of 15-67. On top of that, they have been playing in the BMO Harris Bradley Center for the past couple of decades. The Bradley Center was intentionally built for hockey and not basketball so attending games for the Bucks sometimes had you in the nosebleeds barely seeing what was going on on the court. The Bucks struggled after their 2013-2014 season with records of 41-41 (2014-2015) and 33-49 (2015-2016). Now, the Bucks have recently finished their regular season and moved to the playoffs. From 15-67 just five years ago, to now 60-22 which gave them the best record in the NBA, the number one seed in the East and home-court advantage, Giannis has proved himself as potentially one of the greatest players the NBA and the Bucks franchise will ever see.

The Bucks now have a new arena that opened this season, Fiserv Forum, which is built specifically for the Bucks (and Marquette) instead of hockey. Looking back on the Bucks in their previous years compared to now, the Bucks have sold out every single game this season. Something Milwaukee never thought they would see from being a small market team. From my experience, while working for the Bucks, you can see the difference in the crowd and feel their enthusiasm and excitement radiating off of the fans. And this is all thanks to Mr. Antetokounmpo who is making his mark here in Milwaukee. Giannis has won Eastern Conference Player of the Month for October/November, December, February and March/April and even earned his spot as Eastern Conference captain for the All-Star game this year. Giannis may be considered in his prime right now, but he is only 24-years-old which means he has plenty of time to only make himself better.

The Brewers had won the NL Central Divison back in 2011 but lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Championship Series. After that, they struggled a bit and haven't won the title since until last year in 2018. He brought the Brewers to the NLCS last season, but unfortunately, they lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Yelich had 36 home runs last season and already has eight (as of 4/16/19) this season. He happens to be a great right fielder as well. In last night's (4/15/19) game against the Cardinals, Yelich alone scored three home runs.

Miller Park has been filling up more and more each game of Brewers fans. Being a small market team like their cross-city friends, the Bucks, bringing home an MVP title as well as a division title, it makes everyone aware of their greatness and dedication. The season may have just started back up again, but there is no doubt, if Yelich and his teammates keep playing like they are right now, they will have another shot of making it to the World Series.

Giannis Antetokounmpo and Christian Yelich have brought and will continue to bring excitement and greatness to Milwaukee which is something the city hasn't seen in a while. This era of sports will surely be remembered for a long time by the people of Milwaukee and Wisconsin.

Related Content

Facebook Comments