I hate the part of my facebook profile where I’m supposed to list my “hometown.” I’ve lived in Charlotte for most of my life, but I didn’t grow up here exactly. So while I’m proud to be a resident of the Queen city, I still don’t know if I’d consider it my hometown. I think I change my facebook “hometown” status more often than I should.. is it Phoenix, AZ where I spent a lot of my growing up years, or the small city near Los Angeles that I was born in. Or is it Matthews, NC where I lived during high school, or one of the cities I lived in during college … I don’t know if there is a right or wrong answer.
I love to buy local, avoid big box stores whenever possible, drink microbrew beers over the icky big brewery beer that rhymes with crudweiser, etc. My favorite bar in town is a locally-owned joint with fun, diverse people who frequent it. When it comes to sports, I cheer for teams and athletes I have a hometown connection with. I don’t really pay attention to the NBA much these days, but if I did, I’d follow the Phoenix Suns pretty exclusively. The first time I watched a NASCAR race, I picked a “favorite” driver because he was my age and was born in a town not far from where I was born in Southern California (he’s won five championships since I “picked” him his rookie year, so I must have picked well!). One of my favorite go-to local beers is from the Olde Hickory Brewery, because of the great memories I have of drinking it in college… my other favorite beer is from Asheville, pretty much anything from Highland Brewing Co., because of the many years I spent in Asheville working at summer camp. I like to claim things from all the hometowns of my past, and take a lot of pride in it.
Regardless of where my “hometown” is, I know without a doubt that my favorite hockey team is the hometown Charlotte Checkers. They make me even more proud to be a Charlottean! Sure, I have a closet full of hockey jerseys… they range from the AHL (my newest jersey purchases, of course!), to ECHL, NHL, NCAA and USA Hockey and Team Canada. But there’s no doubt in my mind after this inaugural season in Charlotte, the AHL Checkers are hands down, my hometown and favorite team. I admit it, when the Falcons played the Checkers, I wore a Columbus jersey, because of Mike Commodore, but the entire game, I cheered for the Checkers. It was no contest. They are my team!
It’s been so much fun to watch the Checkers this year. And not just in the sense that it’s a blast to go to games, cheer and boo and taunt the goaltenders (yes, even ours, at times…). But I’ve loved seeing the team gain more and more fans. I’ve loved seeing attendance at games, and my friends who had never cared much about hockey become season ticket holders, and taking my mom to games a couple of times. It’s been fun to see the players get more comfortable with the fans, the city and the organization. It’s great to see them embrace Charlotte and all of it’s awesome.
I’m stoked about the playoffs. I love that I have a stack of tickets ready to go for the first couple of rounds (I sure hope we get to use them all, AND get more!) I love that hockey is so alive in a city that is well below the Mason Dixon line, and incapable of supporting an outdoor rink for more than a dozen days a year (without mechanical chillers, or course!).
I guess, what I’ve been trying to say as I rambled for five paragraphs is that the Checkers make me want to change my facebook “hometown” to Charlotte, just so I can claim to be “from” the home of my favorite team.