Welcome to the refreshed Canes Country! To celebrate the new look and feel of our sports communities, we’re sharing stories of how and why we became fans of our favorite teams. If you’d like to share your story, head over to the FanPosts to write your own post. Each FanPost will be entered into a drawing to win a $500 Fanatics gift card. We’re collecting all of the stories here and featuring the best ones across our network as well. Come Fan With Us!
Some people say you don't choose your team; rather, your team chooses you. As a 2-year-old at the time of the then-Whalers’ move to North Carolina, I certainly didn't get a choice.
I was very much born into a hockey family -- my dad's dad, former captain of the West Point team back in 1960-61 under Head Coach Jack Riley, raised his three sons as hockey and soccer players despite the family moving from place to place as part of the military lifestyle. My mom developed her affinity for the sport after marrying my dad, and they lived together in Washington D.C. as...shudder...Capitals fans. To their credit, that loyalty quickly faded after our move to the newly-formed Hurricanes’ neck of the woods.
I was born in California and spent a year or so in Belgium as an infant, and I obviously had plenty of exposure to hockey through my family. But it was during this time outside NC that the Canes played their inaugural season in Greensboro. By the time we moved back to Cary before 2000, they had made the move to the Entertainment and Sports Arena (now PNC Arena) in Raleigh, and I was officially a fan — even if I didn't fully understand what it meant yet.
We went to games when we could, and I began taking Learn-to-Play classes at the Cary Ice House. The cool part about this was that, on occasion, Glen Wesley and Sami Kapanen would show up with their kids – better known now as Kasperi Kapanen of the Maple Leafs and Josh Wesley of the very same Hurricanes organization as his father – and help run classes for a bit. Kinda hard not to cheer for their team at that point, right?
Nonetheless, my fanhood was never in doubt. At six, I could tell you which Canes player corresponded to which number at random. I made signs for every game I was lucky enough to go to and dreamed of skating like Kapanen, my favorite player. Every opportunity to see a game or go to a sponsored event was like Christmas, and a chance to meet the players was always The Best Day Ever, with no exaggeration.
I grew up playing on youth hockey teams full of kids with all types of hockey backgrounds, but there were always a quite a few Canes fans. I’m fairly sure I would have started playing hockey regardless of whether or not I was near an NHL team, but the Hurricanes being in my backyard undoubtedly kept me playing as I grew up.
Over the years since then, I've seen three playoff runs, two Stanley Cup Final appearances (including Game 5 of the 2006 Final in person), and plenty of ups and downs with this team. They’ve frustrated, encouraged, and confounded me along the way, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. The coming years are encouraging, and I have a feeling that the same little kid who grew up idolizing Rod Brind’Amour, Ron Francis, Jeff O’Neill, Sami Kapanen, and other former cornerstones would love to watch Jeff Skinner, Justin Faulk, Sebastian Aho and company go to work each night.
So, what made you into a Hurricanes fan? Create your own FanPost and share your story, plus you’ll have a chance to win a $500 Fanatics gift card!
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. SB Nation Why Are You a Fan Reader Sweepstakes starts at 8:00am ET on May 25, 2017 and ends at 11:59pm ET on June 8, 2017. Open only to eligible legal residents of the United States, 18 years or older. Click here for Official Rules and complete details, including entry instructions, odds of winning, alternative method of entry, prize details and restrictions, etc. Void where prohibited or restricted by law. Sponsor: Vox Media, Inc.