Booster Club Convention – Highlights so far
By Gary Harding
For the past 23 years, this week in August has always been a journey for me. No work, no job responsibilities. Just a chance to hang with my hockey family; friends that I have known for decades, and some that I am just meeting for the first time.
In this place, we are not rivals. We are friends. We can talk about hockey, or in some cases, we are reciting movie lines. In some cases, there are discussions about players that teams have had, or are going to get; in some instances, the idea of what to order in PF Chang’s (A convention must for many people) is high on the priority list.
The week of convention leading to Friday, is where the host city gets to show its visitors what their area is all about. From the lighthouses on the Atlantic, to cheering on the Durham Bulls. Checking out the largest private home in America (Biltmore Estate) to wineries, and of course, a convention tradtion Pub Crawl. Conventioneers always have the ability to socialize and enjoy each other’s company.
Yesterday some folks went on a drive to Charlotte to the Nascar Hall of Fame, and some folks even took a course and got to drive a real Nascar at speeds of over 130 miles per hour. Some got to be passengers and got to experience what Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Jimmie Johnson feel every weekend.
Last night – many got the opportunity to go to a sports bar outside the RBC Center, to enjoy a great dinner of southern fare, and to solve the mystery of “Who murdered the Referee?” When someone started to scream that the Ref was killed, I was standing in the area that the screams were coming from, so I had to run and get to my seat, and believe me, I could have been the murderer, because I was fleeing the scene like a schoolgirl. It ended up that our lone representative from Vancouver was the murderer, because he was mad that Tim Thomas beat his team, so he stabbed the Ref with a kitchen knife. A good time was had by all. Also – thanks to Chad LaRose of the Hurricanes for stopping by.
What a nice guy!
Today, there are some folks going to a Build a Bear to make some “Caniac Critters” to take to some children’s hospitals in the area. Some, like me, are heading to some of the local breweries. Tonight – the convention themes begin with a visit and exhibition from the Carolina Fury wheelchair hockey team. Then, since we are in Carolina, and these guys know how to tailgate, we are roasting a pig that has been named CHARLIE by the hotel staff. Dancing the night away and having fun with each other, we then hit hospitality rooms where puzzles and LCR games command the most attention.
You notice a theme here that hockey is not the main focus of this event. Yes, hockey brought us here, but friendship is the name of this game. As I stated in a previous article, no enemies are here. We are all great FRIENDS, that all love the game of hockey so much. It does not matter how old you are (the ages range from teens to some that will not want me to reveal their ages), it does not matter what your team is, we are all family here.
Tomorrow – after a meeting – there are folks going bowling – or heading to the RBC Center for a tour of where the Canes play. Then Saturday night – a beach party theme, with a southern flare. Canes TV broadcaster John Forslund will be our guest. I just have not gotten to talk to some folks to get some quotes, for which I will be doing over the weekend. Stay tuned to Eyes On Isles for the latest.
If you are a member of a NHL Booster or Fan Club that is not run by the actual hockey club, you can attend this convention. If your team does not – you can join one of the clubs and come. Next year, this event will be hosted by the Florida Panthers Booster Club in Fort Lauderdale. I can tell you from the 23 years that I have come to these events, it is always circled on my calendar. If you can – I hope that you can consider attending these events.
Have a hockey day folks. I know I will…