Being born and raised in Florida in the early 90s made me a very fortunate person. Luckily, three years after I was born, the Florida Panthers franchise began. I went to several games at the Miami Arena but after a while it got strenuous on my dad with gas costs because we were driving 45 minutes away, three times a week. But in 1998 when the team moved down the street from my house, The Lewis’ family became proud season seat holders. Most families could not understand how hockey was such a huge asset to us. While my friends were into pig skins and the Miami Dolphins, I was wearing a Paul Laus T-shirt to sleep every night and playing right defense for the girls Florida Jr. Panthers travel league. Hockey was not just a sport to my family. It was an obsession.
Sadly my family was one of the many who jumped on the bandwagon and got rid of their season tickets in 2001, a year or so after our drought of not making the playoffs. But I didn’t care. My family couldn’t stop me from going. Luckily I was a good student in middle school because every once in awhile they would give out 30% off tickets for A, B students. By this time I already knew everything about the Florida Panthers. I could name every player, every position, every jersey Number etc etc.
I continued going to games all throughout middle school and high school, though not as often as I would have liked to. I remembered in my 10th grade year I was part of the “Panther Paint Crew.” I was the only girl allowed to paint a letter on my body. But it was that game that I noticed the energy was nothing like it used to be. I could see several empty seats and hardly anybody cheering. Except us. It made me ridiculously frustrated to see that people were giving up on this team. That Florida fans no longer cared about hockey like they use to. But I still continued my journey with the Florida Panthers up until November of 2009 when I received the opportunity of a lifetime.
Nearly 2 years ago I was offered the position as a Communications/Media Relations Intern with the Florida Panthers. A team I had been so passionate about growing up. After 2 seasons with this franchise, I understood exactly why this team meant so much to me. It’s a friendly atmosphere and the workers really strive to make the fan experience memorable. I understand that it can be quite difficult watching a team not make it to the playoffs for nearly 11 years, but this year is a time of rebuilding and I believe in Dale Tallon. Although my internship just recently came to an end, I am greatly looking forward for the Draft and the upcoming free Agency we may sign. Working for the Florida Panthers didn’t change my views as a fan, It made me respect the franchise even more than I already did before. But now that I am no longer obligated to work on Game nights, so you better believe that this girl will be in the stands at every single game until the day I leave Florida. I am a Florida Panthers fan. And I am Proud of it.
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