Tell Us Your Panthers' Fan Story: Laurel Serra

So, you want to know my story? Yes I’m a diehard Panther’s fan and I’ve been here since the beginning! Yes there are some of us who have stuck through it all from the initial year! I may not be a season ticketholder, but my story goes a little something like this..

As a young kid, I have two things I used to do with my father and brother  all of the time. One was fishing off of Long Island Sound, and the other was sharing a bag of Cotton Candy over a hockey Game. You see my father was a hockey player, for the University of Connecticut (GO HUSKIES NATIONAL CHAMPS!!! – shameful plug I know.. )

He was a GREAT Hockey player from the stories I have been told,  and like many young guys he had some very big hopes of going pro. Unfortunately one night, that all ended.. he was charging the net when he was hit from both sides. His hip dislocated from it’s socket and then went back in. That was where the real damage happened. Endless Surgeries and recovery time later.. my father has a permanent rod in his hip. He can never put on a pair of skates again in addition to many other activities. As a kid he was not able to teach me how to ice skate, roller skate, or even bowling!! But what he did teach me, was a love and appreciation for the game he cherished so very much. I remember climbing the steps to our nosebleed seats to watch the Hartford Whalers, and more frequently than any the New Haven Nighthawks!

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In 1988, my family relocated to South Florida. We left our family, the ice, the snow, and yes.. HOCKEY!

Of course we got by fine in the sunshine and water. We had plenty of fishing to enjoy.. There were other sports too, I had never really watched much of them.. besides.. everyone I had known played and watched hockey. Baseball, Football, and Basketball seemed boring and bland to me. AND STILL DO! Nothing beats the thrill of the ice and the hopes of seeing a little bit of Rough Playing! OK, Who am I kidding.. I wanted to see a fight!!!

But then, in the Spring of 1993, something happened. Florida, YES FLORIDA, was getting a hockey team!! I couldn’t believe my ears! These people didn’t know what hockey was let alone what an arena looked like! But never-the-less.. My family was being reunited with a sport it loved! And with a new team! The Florida Panthers. While we did not get to frequent a lot of games, we did go to at least one game every season. My father always made sure he did what he could to make sure we made it to at least one game every year! We laughed and enjoyed the time on the ice, through players, through coaches, through goals, wins, and of course losses. We even rallied for our run at the Stanley Cup! Through the years, I’ve grown up, and my parents have moved away.. but I still carry on the tradition with my brother. And we do it more-so than ever! In lieu of Christmas gifts and Birthday Gifts each year, we have decided to go to Hockey Games. As many as we can possibly afford each season. It’s odd being on the buying end now and being able to control how often I get to go. I have re-dedicated myself to a sport I have always loved but to truly learn the ins and outs of the game and all of my players… I love it, I love every minute of it.. the rush of the game, the stress in the final minutes.. It’s thrilling.. but it always reminds me of the times we shared with my dad.

Nothing was more exciting to me this year though than surprising my father with tickets to a game for Christmas when he came to visit. He had no idea.. But finally, My brother and I were able to return the favor and take HIM to a hockey game! So for me, as much as I of course want them to win, I’ll stick by them.. through thick.. and thin.. and thinner.. and barely there… but regardless.. they are my team through and through.. They give  my brother, my father, and I something to bond over year after year.. and for that, I will forever be a fan!

Laurel Serra

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