“I Became A Caps Fan In London”

“How did we get here?” is a common question brought up in the debate of evolution. It’s a question that’s been asked for centuries, but that very question can relate to so much more. For example, how did we become Caps fans? Our reasons are boundless. And unlike evolution (depending on your beliefs), there is no wrong answer. We wanted to share one of those stories. Chris Guizlo, a dear friend of KOL, has transformed from a Midwestern country boy into a crazed Caps fan.

When I was growing up, my heroes were names like Paul Pierce, Chipper Jones and Greg Maddux. Not Jagr, Kolzig and Gretzky. As a Kansas boy, I spent most of my time watching University of Kansas basketball and not hockey. But last year that all changed. Now I can’t stop watching the NHL Network and checking Twitter every five minutes during a game.

My love for hockey and the Washington Capitals started in the one of the places you would least suspect: London. As a student at American University, I took my spring 2010 semester to study abroad and England was where I landed. Adam, creator of KOL, was my roommate and many nights a week, you could find him in our room watching the Caps. Eventually I started watching with him and he patiently answered my ridiculous questions about rules and strategy. I remember night after night staying up until midnight when a 7PM puck drop would begin on the East Coast and living through the best parts of the 2009-2010 season through an internet stream. In the weirdest way, this experience hooked me on hockey and the Caps.

When I came back to the States, it was the middle of the playoffs and I, like any Caps fan, was devastated when the boys in red lost Game 7 to the Habs. I vowed that next year I would try to watch even more hockey and go to as many games as my student budget could afford. I’ll never forget the goosebumps I got when I walked into Verizon Center for my first Caps game on October 11, 2010, against the Senators. I screamed my head off that game and that night I planned when my next trip would be.

I know that many Caps fans have cheered for this team through the good and the bad. I want to be like you. I want to be the fan that knows every stat about every player and lives and dies by this team. But I do not want to be the kind of fan that thinks this team owes me anything. I know that ticket prices are expensive at Verizon. Believe me, I am a college student; my life is lived on a budget and too much ramen for my own good. But despite the high ticket prices, it’s a game that at the end of the night, one team is going to win and one team is going to lose. I want it to be those guys in red every time, but that is simply not going to happen. If you want to know what that’s like, become a Harlem Globetrotters fan.

I’m not saying that it’s an unrealistic expectation to want your home team to play their hardest or win every game. But these guys are human. They know that Washington has the best fans in the league and that each one of them wants to see them win.

If at the end of this season, the Caps aren’t lifting the Stanley Cup, of course I’ll be disappointed. But I’m not going to use it as an excuse for failure if they don’t. I think sometimes people get so caught up in the points race, the stats, who isn’t playing well and who isn’t pulling their weight that they forget what an amazing game hockey is. I never had the chance to play this amazing game, so I live vicariously through the Caps night after night. I feel like a little kid who wants to go on the ice for the first time and pretend to be their hero and score the winning goal.

I am mesmerized by this game. I think the closing few minutes of the HBO series “24/7 Pens/Caps” summed it up better than I ever could: “Hockey won’t hold still to give you a better look, you wouldn’t want it to anyway. It’s the action that makes the possibilities endless. The next practice, the next city and the next game await.”

Let’s Go Caps!

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