Back in the winter of 2018, I fell into a deep depression. Every day felt cold and unbearable, and getting out of bed was the most challenging thing I faced every day. I needed an outlet, something that could distract me from my life and keep me entertained. Past coping mechanisms weren’t doing it for me anymore, so I was desperately looking for something else.
Since I could remember, my mom and dad both loved ice hockey, roller hockey, field hockey… basically, anything to do with hitting a puck with a stick, they were all over it. My mom was the captain of her co-ed street hockey team back in the day, and my dad was just in love with the sport. They met, fell in love, and had me, then started subjecting me to their love of the sport from a very early age. I would watch the Philadelphia Flyers with them all the time, simply because I didn’t have much of a choice. That eventually turned me into a fan, too.
It wasn’t until the winter of 2018-19 that I genuinely started to care about the sport as deeply as my parents did. As I was seeking a source of comfort and familiarity to bring me out of my depression, I decided, why not see how the Flyers are doing this season? (Spoiler alert, they did not do well that season, almost at all– apart from a random 8-game win streak)
I remember the day, January 31, 2019, very clearly. I was eating dinner on the far-left side of my couch in the saddest, most hopeless mood I’d ever been in. I turned the television on and tried to find something to watch. I came across NBC Sports Philadelphia, who were covering the Philadelphia Flyers playing against the Boston Bruins. The Flyers were on opponent ice, and then-rookie goalie Carter Hart was playing his absolute heart out (no pun intended) to try and help his team secure their sixth straight win. With Hart’s impressive goaltending and Travis Sanheim’s beauty of an overtime goal (in his 100th NHL game, how cool), the Flyers brought home the win.
I felt something new that night. I felt a passion start to fire up, one that I hadn’t felt since I started listening to One Direction in 2012 and Panic! At the Disco in 2013. I fully embraced the feeling and dove headfirst into the hockey world. Before I knew it, I was always at warmups, practices, games, and signing events with my friends and family, celebrating our love for our team. I quickly met so many new friends, some of whom I still talk to every day! Paying closer attention to the Flyers brought me so many new places– the most important one being into a journalist position with Flyers Nitty Gritty, an officially credentialed media site focused on covering the Philadelphia Flyers.
Twitter was and still is a space for me to express myself, my opinions, and my frustrations. I followed tons of Flyers-related people who shared in my love for the team, including Jamey Baskow, an official public relations expert for the Flyers. Little did I know that pressing that follow button on his page would change my life.
One of my friends, Katelynn Reiss, is a sports photographer who worked closely with Jamey. She took me under her wing when I started expressing interest in becoming someone like her, a woman who got to follow her favorite hockey team and make a name for herself while doing so. When the NHL started allowing reporters at games again after the initial COVID-19 lockdown, Katelynn was one of the lucky few to be let in the building. I remember being so jealous of her and wanting to be in there too, watching my favorite team in the world play a sport that I’m so passionate about. I knew she worked with Jamey, so I decided to take the leap and direct message him on Twitter to see just how I could get into the games, too.
I said, “Hi Jamey! I was wondering what criteria you have to meet in order to get into a Flyers game, like how Katelynn was there tonight.”
Jamey quickly responded, “Well, she is a photographer for Flyers Nitty Gritty. If you would like to join us, we have spots open!”
I had never been so excited yet scared in my entire life. I thought to myself, “what if this is the beginning of my career, and all it took was me being bold and asking someone how to get into a Flyers game?” I didn’t want to ask any questions or second-guess Jamey or myself, so I just jumped right in and said I’d love to join the team. Jamey gave me a call and we talked logistics. Before I knew it, I was an officially credentialed part of the media for the Philadelphia Flyers.
This was at the beginning of 2021, February 26 to be exact. It didn’t take long for me to put out my first article, “Flyers’ Power Play Looking Grim, But There Is Hope.” To this day, I am so proud of myself and this article. The amount of incredible things it has brought into my life is unbelievable.
A few weeks later, on March 9, 2021, I attended my first game as a member of the media. With my turtleneck and crystal necklaces on, I was ready to take on the world. I walked into the building as if I had done this a thousand times and made my way up to the press box. As I entered the long, narrow press area, I looked around and took in my surroundings. I realized that this was really happening, and I wasn’t just a fan anymore– I was a reporter, a journalist. I had a job to do, and I was determined to get it done right. This night was when I wrote arguably my favorite article, “A Night At The Farg.” I got to witness a Nolan Patrick goal in person (probably rarer than seeing Bigfoot), see my team win, and be part of something that I never would’ve thought I’d be.
I recently attended a Flyers game as media this past weekend, on October 29. Over time, the media started to be allowed back into the locker room and other areas for post-game press conferences. I have attended many post-game conferences in a meeting room, but this time I chickened out and left when the rest of the media went into the locker room. I was just so nervous and didn’t want to say or do the wrong thing, so I left. I regret it, though, and at the next game I cover I will be going into that locker room!
Being part of the media means a lot, the most important thing being covering the game from an objective standpoint and making sure that the public gets factual information. Opinions are allowed to be sprinkled in, but the statistics and facts need to be one-hundred percent certain. It’s fun getting to attend games, take notes, and do research in order to properly cover a game. It certainly is a lot of work, but I absolutely love doing it. It’s an escape from reality into a different world.
I not only do this for myself, but for my mom, who just recently passed away from advanced lung and bone cancer. Since she was the origin of my love for hockey and the person I shared my passion with, it still hurts to watch games. It was really sweet, though, to cover the game on October 29 because the Flyers played the Carolina Hurricanes, whose head coach is none other than Flyers alum Rod Brind’Amour. Brindy was my mom’s absolute favorite player of all time. She was an honorary ‘Canes fan just because of the fact that her Brindy coached them. After the game, as the rest of the media and I were led to the conference room, we walked past the Hurricanes’ reporters conducting an interview about two feet away from our destination. Who else would they be interviewing other than Rod Brind’Amour? Before I even realized what was happening, I was two feet away from my mom’s all-time favorite hockey player. I couldn’t believe that I was just in that situation and I couldn’t go home to my mom to tell her about it. I still texted her, though, as if she was still here. I know she’s proud of me, and jealous too!
For the rest of my life as a hockey fan and journalist, I will always do it with my mom in mind. She was my number one supporter and always read my articles, shared them with friends and family, and told me over and over how proud she was of me. I’ll never forget the genuine love and care that she showed me throughout my journeys, both of my entire life and of my life as a Flyers journalist. Although life has ultimately gotten in the way recently and I haven’t been as involved as I’d like to be, I know that it will all work out in the end and I’ll make my mom even prouder– if that’s possible.
I owe a lot of my success to Katelynn and her respect for a fellow woman who wants to make a difference in a male-dominated field, and to Jamey for trusting someone he had only had one conversation with before. If it weren’t for either of them being so open and wiling to welcome me into the professional side of the hockey world, I definitely would not be where I am today.
My advice to those considering taking a leap would be to just take it. When I first messaged Jamey, I had no idea that it would lead me where it did. If you want to do something bold, just do it. The worst type of regret is wishing you could go back in time and do something that you can’t do anymore.
I am beyond excited for whatever journalism, public relations, and media have in store for me throughout the rest of my life’s journey.