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Hunter is a junior in Trumbull College from Tallahassee, Florida. As an English major, she spends a considerable amount of time reading literature written before the nineteenth century. She also works in the Admissions Office and serves as a board member for Yale’s Black Solidarity Conference. Hunter enjoys saltwater fishing, playing table tennis, and participating in a jam band with her fellow Trumbullians.
Before coming to Yale, I had never attended an ice hockey game in my life. I was familiar enough with the sport to know the basics–my dad would occasionally watch games and invite me to watch with him–but I never understood the allure of the sport. Growing up, hockey culture was big. I am one generation removed from the Team USA’s “Miracle on Ice,” and I grew up in the era of the Florida Panthers’ “rat trick” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OnHpaVW53SM).
I found the brawls and, often reckless, body checking commonplace in 1990s hockey incredibly off-putting. Eventually, it was virtually off my radar. I would only watch snippets of matches if my dad decided to watch, and that happened infrequently when the Panthers didn’t make it to the playoffs. Part of my hockey apathy is also due to where I grew up. The South has embraced football, baseball, and basketball with open arms, but the popularity of other sports often trails far behind the “big three.”
Yale, unlike the South, is big on hockey. I was shocked when I realized just how serious Yalies were about going to games and cheering on our team. My friends, who couldn’t care less about any other sporting event, cleared their schedules to make it to games at Ingalls Rink. Habitual procrastinators completed papers and problem sets in advance of Friday night games. As important as hockey was to those people, I wasn’t moved. My freshman year, I didn’t attend a single hockey game. Despite my suitemates’ coaxing, I had no desire to watch a game. I was still somewhat traumatized by my childhood perceptions of the sport, men flying on ice and slamming one another into Plexiglas barriers.
This year, my friends finally got me to go to a game. As the first period came to a close, I deeply regretted taking a year to make my way to the rink. Yes, hockey was as physical as I remembered it, but the roar of the crowd–be it in excitement or anxiety–was just as exhilarating as the action on the ice.