Although the New York Islanders fanbase isn’t as large as many other fanbases in the NHL, they do hold some of the most diehard fans in the league, and with diehard fans come stories, so here’s mine.
The story of my New York Islanders fan hood is a very long one, and I hold it dear to my heart. From starting my fan hood at the age of three with season tickets at the Nassau Coliseum to cheering from over 2,000 miles away in the suburbs of South Florida, I carried this team through it all.
A little background on myself before we begin, my name is Colby and I’m 15 years old, currently in my tenth-grade year of high school, and I have a very mild form of Autism. Although I live out of reach from MSG’s television market, I still watch all 82 games of the New York Islanders season thanks to NHL.tv, and I couldn’t be more thankful for it.
My fan hood began when I was a three-year-old back on Long Island, where I lived before I made the move to Southern Florida. My dad decided to buy season tickets for the New York Islanders, as he was still adjusting from our recent move from Oklahoma City in 2002.
My mom was already an avid supporter of the New York Islanders, as she frequently went to games as she grew up on Long Island, and suggested the idea that my dad and I should get into hockey, and as soon as we walked through the doors of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, it was love at first sight.
The Instant Hook
As we went to more and more games as the years went on, I became instantly hooked, from the friendly faces of fellow New York Islanders fans to the excitement of every Islanders goal. They became the biggest part of my life, and at times they were the only bright spot I had in my life.
Things at school weren’t going so well for me, as kids picked on me because I was different from everyone. Growing up with autism was toug., I got extremely nervous in social situations, and sometimes I had no clue what to do. Once second-grade came, the bullying got so bad, that we had to move to Florida, but I still held the New York Islanders deep in my heart.
I remember the final time I got to see the Coliseum before I moved away. It was the night of the New York Islanders Draft Party in 2009, the year we drafted John Tavares. I followed Tavares through his junior career as I became more and more into hockey, and I was very excited to hear his name called.
When I look back on the moment I saw the Coliseum in the rear view mirror that day, I hold it in my heart as a moment of sincere gratitude for everything this team has done for me, and the story had only just begun.
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The day I arrived in Florida, I wore my New York Islanders jersey with pride, looking forward to the new beginnings it provided for me, but things weren’t good just yet. My third-grade through sixth-grade years felt the same as before. But the worst had yet to come.
That year, I got teased more than ever and even received death threats via social media. I was scared, depressed, and I didn’t know what to do. Until the orange and blue came to the rescue.
On New Years Day, my mother woke me up and told me there was something in the mail for me, and I couldn’t have been any happier to see who sent it, it was from the New York Islanders. Inside was a note, I still hold dearly, and signed pictures from John Tavares, Josh Bailey, Frans Nielsen, and Kyle Okposo.
More from Eyes on Isles: A fan 12,000 Miles Away
I swear, I couldn’t hold back the tears that day. The team that I had felt was the only good thing I had in my life actually noticed me and sent me help. I couldn’t be more grateful to be a fan of such a great organization, and that moment had to be the turning point of my life.
In my eighth grade year, I entered an essay competition called the “Do the Write Thing Challenge”, a competition where schools around the country write about experiences they’ve had with bullying, and I became the first kid to ever win it from my middle school.
After realizing the writing talent I had, I decided to try my hand at sports writing, and that’s how I stand here today. With all hardships come a light at the end of the tunnel, and I’m glad to have the New York Islanders with me, for every step of the way.