Can you imagine driving 3 hours each way to a Caps game, and doing this on a regular basis? One fan does! Her name is Melissa Allen and she lives in Ocean City, Maryland. She became a season ticket holder this year and attends all the home games. I first became acquainted with Melissa via Twitter (her Twitter name is @Love4Greenie) and was astounded to find that she regularly makes the trek to home games from Ocean City. Here’s her tale.
Q: How did you become a Caps fan? How long have you been one?
A: First, I became a fan of hockey at the age of 8 years old, thanks to The Mighty Ducks movie, I must say. Growing up at the beach, hockey was not a played sport, nor was it ever advertised or talked about too often. When that movie came out, I fell in love with hockey. Hockey was the one sport missing from my family, and I made that known! My dad bought me street hockey gear and would take me to a park where I would insist on being the goalie, and have him shoot pucks at me over and over! The only ice rink we had was a very small one inside a hotel in Ocean City. Hockey was not allowed to be played there, only ice skating. I called the Caps my favorite team just because I considered them my local team, since Maryland did not have a hockey team. I never really knew too much about players, but I did know the game. Unfortunately, I never had the opportunity to attend a game, since we lived far away. I started closely following the Caps right before the lockout, learning players well, and learning more about the Caps organization and system as a whole. Still, I had never been to a game because quite honestly, I didn’t know any other Caps fans, or even hockey fans for that matter. A friend of mine took me to my first game a few years ago for my birthday, and I fell in love with the sport all over again. Seeing a hockey game live is a completely different experience than watching it on TV. Since then, we would buy tickets off of eBay for games we wanted to attend, and the two of us would drive to DC to see the games.
Q: What made you decide to get season tickets?
A: I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would be a season ticket holder for a sports team. I knew season ticket holders for baseball, basketball and football teams, and I figured that was something completely out of my reach to ever do. Within the recent years, I thought how much fun it would be to become a season ticket holder for the Washington Capitals, because they have so much to offer their fans, including all of their really cool events and meet & greets, etc. The only thing stopping me? DISTANCE. I live in Ocean City, Maryland- the coast/beach of Maryland- about 3 hours from Washington, D.C. It would be silly and crazy for me to get season tickets, living this far away, right? Well, last year when season tickets went on sale, my friend (the one who took me to my first game) and I decided to call a Caps representative during our break at work, so we could get some information on becoming a weekend season ticket holder. I’m not quite sure what came over us within those 30 minutes on the phone, but once we hung up, we were officially full season ticket holders for the most amazing hockey team in the NHL, and did that feel good! It was the best decision I have ever made, and I have not looked back since!
Q: How long does it usually take for you to get to the Verizon Center?
A: On a good day, when I can take my time and not worry about being late (i.e. a weekend or a day I can leave work early), about 3 hours. On a rushed day, when I’m leaving straight from work, I shamefully become Speed Racer and will get there in 2½ hours. Then comes the task of finding parking, but I’ve come to know the secrets of good free spots! The distance between me and my favorite place on Earth is 270 miles, roundtrip. Luckily for me, Route 50 became my best friend since it’s pretty much the only road I stay on, which eventually turns into New York Avenue taking me right into DC. I drive a Ford Focus which I bought brand new in 2003, to every single game, and she has never let me down yet! I make sure to rock the Weagle on the back window, a Washington Capitals magnet on the back bumper, and a Caps license plate frame. NHL Caps tags are next on my list.
Q: Do you ever want to throw in the towel after a particularly long or difficult ride?
A: Quite honestly, yes. There are times when I will wake up at 6:30 a.m., work from 8 a.m. to 4:45 p.m., leave from work and head straight to DC for a 7 p.m. game. Depending on traffic and parking, I’ll usually miss 5-10 minutes of the 1st period. When the game ends, I get back to my car, and head home. I usually arrive home around 12:30am… unless we went into OT or a shootout, then it’s more like 1 a.m. Then I’ll get ready for bed, usually falling asleep at 2 a.m., then waking up at 6:30 a.m. for work, only to do it all over again. There are days where I’m exhausted – don’t get me wrong, I’m always pumped for a game – but I’ll be exhausted, and getting in my car to drive to DC. I will think to myself, “Wow, I’m tired. I can’t believe I’m driving this far just to go to a hockey game, and I’m just going to turn back around to come right back home.” I’ll think to myself, “I should have just sold my ticket for this game.”
Then, a couple hours later, I’m sitting in my seat in Verizon Center, and… BAM!! Jose Theodore makes an amazing save!! BAM! Matt Bradley just knocked a guy off his feet and down to the ice!! BAM!! Mike Green scores on a power play with a shot that the opposing goalie never saw coming!! BAM!! Nicklas Backstrom creates the most beautiful play you can imagine, passing the puck to Alex Ovechkin who nets the game winner!! BAM!! Mike Knuble bangs in his first shoot out goal pass Fleury, winning the game for the Caps!! These are the moments when I jump out of my seat, high-five all my seatmates, and those around us, and cheer at the top of my lungs for a team that is composed of an amazingly talented group of guys. It is in that moment when I sit back down in my seat, and think to myself, “I’m glad I decided to drive the distance to this game. I’m glad I’m here, I’m glad I just saw that,” and a big smile of joy and excitement will come across my face. The energy inside of the Verizon Center is wild, and once I’m there, I completely lose the tiredness that I thought I had, and I gain the enthusiastic energy to help cheer on our boys! This team makes every game worth the drive. Every game, somebody does something amazing. These are the moments that I live for… these are the moments I drive for!
Q: What’s been your biggest challenge to get to a game?
A: SNOW! I have driven through every element of weather you can think of. Pouring down rain, extreme patches of fog, sleet falling from the sky, icy icy roads, but ever so more challenging, SNOW!! Unfortunately, the “Snowmageddon of 2010” kept me from the last two home games before the Olympic break, including the Caps vs. Pens game. I was devastated… I had been looking forward to that game all season. Last year, we received heavy snow in March. It was a Sunday 3 p.m. game. Fortunately for my friend and I, the snow had not begun once the game had ended. We left Verizon Center around 5:45, no snow in sight. As we got closer to Annapolis, tiny snowflakes began to fall. No big deal, right? We stopped in Annapolis for a quick dinner; big mistake. Once we got back out on the road, the snow began to fall a little more heavily. Within a half an hour, the snow was coming down so heavy that you literally could not see the cars in front of you. My little Ford Focus does not handle snow too well, and neither do I. I pulled over, and let me friend drive. I think she could still see the grip marks I had made on my steering wheel. I would say that my car’s speedometer never went above 15 mph. Luckily for us, and because my friend was a super smart driver, we got behind a Cloverland Dairy tractor trailer, and drove behind him the whole way home. That truck was the only vehicle that was heavy enough to make tracks in the snow, so we drove behind him so we could safely drive without sliding off into ditches. I can’t even tell you how many cars, trucks, mini-vans, and suv’s we watched drive right into ditches that night. It was pretty scary to say the least. Lo and behold, we made it home safely- at 1 a.m. Did I mention this game ended at 5:30 p.m.? We should have been home at no later than 9 p.m.
Q: Do you think you’ll keep going to games on a regular basis in the future?
A: ABSOLUTELY!! I can’t imagine NOT going to games in the future. This team gets more and more exciting every year… every month… every day… every moment. When we got our season tickets, we had planned to sell a lot online, and just attend weekend games. That didn’t pan out for me; I had to attend every game, no matter what it took for me to get there. I have only missed 4 games this season (two I sold to seatmates, and two because of “Snowmageddon”). Call me selfish, but I can’t stand knowing that I’m home watching a game that I have a ticket to. I want to be at every game. I want to experience everything that our boys do on the ice, because every experience is memorable. Ted Leonsis and the entire Capitals organization have made Caps games very enjoyable and exciting for the fans. As a fan, I feel proud to be a part of this organization; an organization that loves their fans and works day in and day out to make our experience with hockey and the Capitals the best that it can be.
Q: Do you have any advice for those who are just learning about hockey?
A: My advice overall is to attend a game. You learn so much from that experience! You can watch a hockey game 100 times on television, but you can never really appreciate the sport until you have seen it live for yourself. Make friends with other hockey fans! I have made so many amazingly wonderful friendships over the past few years from being a Caps fan. Friendships that I honestly can not live without! Caps fans are really great people- people who love the game, the players, the coaches, the owners and the entire organization as one, but most importantly, Caps fans love each other! We all share this LOVE and DEVOTION to a team that we all BELIEVE in. I’d also suggest to learn the players; learn who they are on the ice, as well as off the ice. Once you learn who they are, you can learn to appreciate them not only as a player, but as a person, and you can appreciate what they do. Lastly, there are two ways you can view hockey. If you choose to view hockey with your eyes, you will only see players, sticks, pucks, nets, refs, fans, coaches, fights and a scoreboard. If you choose to view hockey with your heart, you will see love, courage, faith, family, friendships, hope, desire, success, truth, inspiration, determination, and passion. We are PASSIONATE. We are CAPS FANS!
Thanks to Melissa for sharing her tale of devotion. Forget about the Capstronaut; now that’s a superfan!