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Jillian Fisher Discovering Voice and Impact in Hockey Community

by Sam Kasan @penguins / Pittsburgh Penguins

The Penguins and PPG are working together on a series of stories to feature the most colorful fans in the game.

It was a daunting task. Perhaps, impossible.

Getting Penguins fans and Flyers fans to say something nice about each other.

But Jillian Fisher was up to the task.

Armed with a camera and microphone, she descended upon the 2019 Stadium Series between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, held at Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Eagles. The initial reactions went as well as expected.

Tweet from @FisherJillian: I asked Pens and Flyers fans if they could say nice things about each other - let's see what they came up with 😂😂. #StadiumSeries

"No," was the most common answer. Along with a few other choice words. Even obvious friends with split allegiances couldn't transcend the contentious rivalry.

Eventually, the armor cracked…well, kind of.

"I like the color orange." -Penguins fans

"Penguins are cute." -Flyers fan, immediately interrupted by another chanting "Crosby sucks!"

"I went to school in western, Pa. so I learned to tolerate them … they make poor life choices, but it's OK." -Flyers fan

"They love to drink as much as we do. So that's good." -Penguins fan

"They're from Pennsylvania." -Flyers fan

"I think they're passionate and I support that." -Penguins fan

"That was the most fun I've ever had making a video," said Fisher, a Philadelphia native and admitted Flyers fan. "Pens fans had more nice things than Flyers fans, but I don't think either side is going to be upset about that. They know how we are.

"I am a fan at the heart of it all. I think I can always respect any type of fandom. Flyers fans, Pens fans, we inherently don't like each other, but at the end of the day, we're all hockey fans."

Fisher posted the video on her YouTube page and on her Twitter account (@FisherJillian). Both platforms are filled with comedic fan-related NHL content. Each video takes a look at the league through the eyes of the fans. Titles such as "Every NHL Team's End of Season Banner," "Every Type of Hockey Fan," and "Every NHL Fan After the Trade Deadline."

Fisher, donning the jersey or shirt of each team, gives the perspective of fans of every club with quick cut editing.

"My background is in cultural anthropology and I was interested in sports, fandom culture," beamed Fisher with enthusiasm. "Fans were what excited me, it was what made the sport for me. If it weren't for fans, then sports wouldn't be as exciting."

Five years ago, Fisher saw Scooter Magruder posting "silly videos" covering the NFL, and wanted to do the same for the NHL. So, she began writing, filming and editing videos. Everything changed two summers ago when she released a video titled "Every NHL Fan in the Offseason."

"It went completely viral and I was like, 'woah, this might be something worth pursuing,'" she said. "It's something I loved doing. So, I just kept making videos and I just kind of went from there."

Since then, her YouTube channel has nearly 20,000 subscribers and her Twitter page has nearly 40,000 followers. But Fisher didn't truly realize how big her platform had grown until Vegas Golden Knights forward Ryan Reaves retweeted one of her posts.

"I was like, 'oh my God, an actual player is commenting on my video,'" Fisher said. "It just blew my mind. This was bigger than I thought it was and that the players see it, and that just freaked me out."

And her reach is going beyond just hockey.

"Somebody messaged me at one point saying, 'my dad and I used to watch your videos, and he passed away. I just wanted you to know that the video you published the other day was the first time that I really allowed myself to laugh,'" Fisher shared. "I never imagined the kind of impact (the videos) would have."

Fisher, who asked all those attending her wedding in December to wear hockey jerseys, is starting to realize her own celebrity, getting recognized at hockey games or even concerts.

"It's so strange to me, and it's something that I am still getting used to," she said. "I'm having fun with it."

And with a growing celebrity and platform, Fisher is cognizant of the responsibility that comes with it.

"I never realized that I had a voice. This was something that for five years I was just doing," she said. "This was never meant to be this big thing. I want to focus on how I can be a better voice to help make positive changes."

Fisher added: "Sometimes I don't need to have a voice. Sometimes I just need to amplify other voices."

One group that Fisher hopes to promote is the Black Girl Hockey Club, which will be holding a meet up and attending the Penguins-Flyers game at PPG Paints Arena on Jan. 31 as part of the "Hockey Is For Everyone" series.

"Hockey should be fun," Fisher said. "We have to balance our love for the sport with making changes for good."

Down the road she would love to see her platform grow from a one-woman show into collaborative effort.

"It would be fun to have a good team of people where we're doing not just videos, but more content, too," she said. "Maybe have a team create more infotainment type of hockey news. You can get lots of different news from lots of different places, but that's what's fun about the videos. It's the same information just packaged in a different way. And I love that. I would love to get some more people on board with that."

Longer-term, Fisher wants to tap into her philanthropic side and work in a sports non-profit or do some type of fundraising. But until then, she's just following her current journey.

"Life was taking me this way, so I went," she said. "I have a lot of different goals, but right now sometimes you have to go where life is taking you."

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