I live in Illinois. Chicago, IL. Home of the champs. Home of Michael Jordan. Home of Jonathon Toews. Home of Frank Thomas.
I have been lucky enough to witness and cheer on the Chicago Bulls, Chicago Blackhawks, and the Chicago White Sox. Sorry Cubs fans, better luck next time.
Chicago is a passionate sports town. If you ever want to witness this just go to a Sox/Cubs game.
I remember when I was younger we would go to my grandparent’s house to watch the Bulls playoff games. Year after year, championship after championship, we watched and celebrated. You had Michael Jordan playing with the flu. John Paxson’s game winning 3-pointer. Scottie Pippen. Tony Kukoc. B.J. Armstrong. Phil Jackson. I remember driving home after each championship to people honking, hanging out of their cars cheering.
Next came the Chicago White Sox winning the World Series in 2005.
My long-time favorite Ozzie Guillen was the coach. My favorite players were all on board: Joe Crede, AJ Pierzynski, Mark Buehrle, Aaron Rowand, Frank Thomas, Bobby Jenks, Freddy Garcia, Jon Garland, Paul Konerko.
I was at Game 2. GAME 2!!! My uncle called me early in the morning saying he had 1 ticket and did I want it. As a good daughter I offered the ticket to my dad first. He said he couldn’t handle being there, he would go crazy. I definitely didn’t ask twice. I went with a family I didn’t know but who knew my uncle. It was an experience I will never forget and one that I can’t wait to tell my kids about.
It was freezing. It was pouring. I was shivering from the second we arrived to the 9th. I mean, chilled to the bone, wet and cold. I was sitting in the bleachers. I remember having to remind myself to breathe every few minutes and refusing to leave my seat to eat, drink or go to the bathroom. The White Sox had their big “Blackout” marketing push where they encouraged all the fans to wear black. Then they passed out white towels. It looked awesome. Every pitch, every hit, every out was nail biting. And just when we all thought we wouldn’t win, Scott Podsenik hit a walk-off home run in the 9th and the crowd went W-I-L-D wild! It was the most insane thing I’d ever witnessed. Everyone on their seats jumping up and down, strangers hugging, men crying, people holding up their phones so loved ones could hear the roar that lasted 10 minutes. It was magical.
Finally, the Chicago Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup twice in 3 years. The first time was a blast but for me, the second time around was exhilarating because this time around I had been closely following the Hawks. I love the guys on this team. They are genuinely good guys who have hearts of gold and play with such passion. Jonathon Toews. Patrick Kane. Patrick Sharp. Duncan Keith. Corey Crawford. Andrew Shaw. Marion Hossa. Coach Q.
I watched the regular season pretty regularly since it was a shortened one due to the strike. The guys were on a winning streak like no
other. The playoffs were intense. Each team brought a set of new challenges. It was nail biting, edge of your seat, screaming at the tv, hockey. There were so many injuries I quickly lost track of who was hurt. I was drawing diagrams to understand rules I thought I knew years before. Each round they won, the tension grew, the games got more hard hitting. You had Shaw punching everyone, getting knocked out every other period. Kaner with the hat trick. Frolik with the penalty shot. Crawford with saves that would make your head spin and limbs hurt just watching. The goal/no goal/Saad penalty debate that you couldn’t go anywhere without hearing about. Toews taking a beating from Chara. Man was it exciting.
The one thing I love most about the championships is the camaraderie among strangers. It’s a coming together of people who have at least one thing in common and that is their love of their team. Sweet home Chicago.