Earlier this season, a sports writing class from Adelphi University was invited to attend the game between the Islanders and Dallas Stars. The class was given an assignment to write about their overall experience at the game—and were told that the paper selected as the best would be posted on newyorkislanders.com. Here is the winning paper:
By Ashley Paterno
As the wind barreled down the aisle of cars in the parking lot, I quickly picked up my pace as I threw on my oldie-but-goodie white Islanders jersey. I was late, again. Tonight they were playing the Dallas Stars, inter-conference, which meant each side could play all out, and of course I didn’t leave my dorm until 7 pm, the time the game was starting.
I made my way through the crowds of people lined up for food inside the Coliseum, and eventually made it to my gate.
While sitting, watching the game my mind drifted a bit, and I began to think about what the Islanders meant to me. Let’s be honest here, I’ve been an Islanders fan since I was young. My earliest memories of my dad and myself were of him taking me along to games and my first memories of the Islanders are very fond ones.
Going to Islanders games with my dad was our way of bonding, mostly because we didn’t actually have to talk to each other while we were watching the game. But we both took enjoyment from the mere fact that we were able to sit with each other for three uninterrupted hours viewing our favorite hockey team play. At one point I turned to a fan, which happened to be a friend, and shyly asked when they first became an Islanders fan.
"I remember my first Islanders game," Chris Diderikson said. "It was in 1993 against the Hartford Whalers. My older brother was a huge Islanders fan, so I just followed in his footsteps. Now I’m a die hard."
Scoreboard check. The Islanders are down and running out of luck, especially with the way the Stars defense was performing. Soon, two fans infatuated with Dallas’ Sean Avery came into my row and sat near me, breaking my train of thought for a little bit. The fans around me began to become alive, each one taking their own special jab at the two young, female Stars fans who had invaded Islanders territory.
I laughed a little bit, thinking about how naïve these girls were. Soon, though, my thoughts drifted back to an odd place, wondering again about fans and how they obtained their obsession for this hockey team from Long Island.
"The first game I went to was in 1996, my dad got free tickets and took me. The Islanders beat the Senators that game 5-4. They scored a crazy goal, the puck kind of rolled over the goalie while he was on his back and it went in," said Mike Lembo, a fan from Port Jefferson Station.
Soon, time ticked away for the Islanders on this night. Deflated Islanders fans trudged out of the Coliseum gates, each one braving the extreme gust of chilly wind that greeted them as they made their way to the cars.
I composed myself as I stood by the group of American flag poles, talking to some friends that had just left the game as well. Even though the Islanders lost, a soundtrack of horn honking to the tune of "Let’s Go Islanders" resonated throughout the parking lot, bringing a smile to my face.
I realized that every fan has their own attachment, and reason for loving this team, whether it be because their whole family loved the team, or because people just loved supporting the underdog.
Whatever reasons these fans and myself may have, we are driven unconditionally to feel emotions for the Islanders, even when they happen to lose.
I soon made my way to my car, and while walking I pulled out my cell phone and hit speed dial 1. The phone rang three times, but soon there was an answer at the other end.