Tell Us Your Panthers' Fan Story: Jessilyn Morales

It all started with a coupon: buy one ticket, get the other free to a Florida Panthers game. After that, my boyfriend refused to stop pestering me about going to a game but I found every excuse in the book to give him so I wouldn’t have to go. Not only did I know absolutely nothing about hockey, I hadn’t even heard of the Florida Panthers before. But one boring November night in 2009, I finally gave in and we headed to our first game ever. Little did I know it would change both of our lives drastically.

We walked out of that first game with a whole new perspective of the sport. From that game on, we went to every single home game that proceeded. The games were our learning tools and we would quiz each other on which penalty the referee was going to call before he announced it. Heading to Incredible Ice is where the Florida Panthers won us over though. Before, we were going to games just to watch some hockey but after watching the team in practice, we were completely taken by them. Being able to sit so close to the ice, seeing the players interact with each other and work hard to better themselves, it became much more than just hockey or a game or a team, it became personal.

With financial aid and student loans, we were able to collect enough money to purchase half season tickets. Needless to say, it was one of the happiest days of our lives. Opening night of the 2010-2011 season, we sat in our seats in section 422 and felt as if we were home. There were nights we left buzzing of happiness and nights where we wouldn’t talk all the way to the car but throughout the good and the bad of the season, we still found ourselves rooting for the Panthers until the very end. Every single night we spent at the Bank Atlantic was exciting and memorable, whether spent together, with friends or making new ones, and we wouldn’t trade it for the world.

People always question why we support the Florida Panthers and especially to the extent that we do. We would gladly give up every Saturday night of our friends’ parties, to instead head to a game. Without hesitation, even if we hadn’t slept the night before, we would take the hour drive to Incredible Ice just to see our boys. For us it’s simple, we love our team. You can see it in our faces when we walk through those doors at the Bank Atlantic or sitting on the edge of our seat at Incredible Ice. We stand by them through the wins and losses, no matter how painful, because we know that we’re headed towards the Stanley Cup and it’s only a matter of time. And that win will be that much sweeter because when we sit in our seats, we’ll be sitting in an arena of not just fans but an extended family. When I look around and see Stanley dancing with Gumby and Pokey and the boy in the banana suit, I’ll know I’m home.

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