By Chilli Amar
I have always been a sports fan. While the other girls played with their Barbie Dream Houses, I was the girl playing kickball and flag football with the boys. Despite my love of sports...hockey was not a part of my childhood. It wasn't even part of my early adulthood. No...hockey wasn't even on the radar until two years ago.
Don't get me wrong...I had countless "encounters" with hockey over the years. I had attended games at the Verizon Center with friends who had an extra ticket every once in a while...but I never really paid much attention to the game itself. I was more interested in the conversation and people-watching. All that changed when my professional path crossed with the Capitals.
Two years ago, I was approached by the Caps to help them kick off their first annual Hockey N Heels. Even though I liked the idea of being involved in a hockey clinic designed for female fans...I initially didn't think it was the right fit for me. Up until that point, I had the impression that hockey just wasn't my "type." It just seemed too "brutal"...with all that hitting, slamming, slapping and punching. I decided to be part of the event anyway...and boy am I glad I did!
That first clinic was better than I could have imagined. I was impressed with the players and coaches. I also learned some of the basics of the sport. I found myself looking forward to being a part of the event the following year. By the time the second annual Hockey N Heels rolled around, I had attended a few more games and had actually paid attention to the action on the ice. The second time around, I was excited about meeting other female hockey fans...and learning even MORE about the Caps. The team had just gotten a new head coach (Bruce Boudreau). All the women were impressed with Boudreau's humor...and his ability to break down the rules into simple terms. He was a hit with the ladies that day...and ultimately with the team.
Shortly after last year's Hockey N Heels, I started dating a HUGE Caps fan. Don had been playing hockey since he was a kid. He had also been a season ticket holder. He knew the stats of all the players...not just on the Caps roster...but in the entire league. I remember bringing up Hockey N Heels during one of our first conversations. He was really impressed that I had attended the clinic and met some of the players and coaches. It wasn't long before Don and I started going to games together. He was thrilled to be sharing one of his passions with me. He LOVED explaining the game to me...and I LOVED impressing him with my knowledge of the players' names.
In true "Chilli" fashion…I came up with my OWN nicknames for the guys on the team. Tomas Fleischmann became "butter." Donald Brashear was affectionately known as "brassiere"...Alex Ovechkin morphed into "Ovie Wan Kenobi"...Michael Nylander became "Zoolander"...and Sergei Federov is now referred to as "S-Fed" (as opposed to Britney's K-Fed). Yes…I’m aware of how ridiculous those sound. I never claimed to be a "normal" fan
J. In the past six months, my boyfriend and I have joined a group of friends and bought season tickets...and Santa Claus brought us both Ovechkin jerseys. We proudly ROCK THE RED during every home game.
Chilli Amar - co-host of Mix 107.3 afternoon show with Carson from 3-7 pm, www.mix1073fm.com