If you have been away from Canes and Coffee, you can find a complete list of clickable links for the articles posted for this week’s reader/guest article week HERE.
With all due respect to the run of three great articles from Canes writers Bob Wage, Ben Pope and Corey Sznajder, the final guest article is probably my favorite of them all.
The uncanny ability for passionate fandom to create deep ties to things associated with it
When one becomes a passionate fan of a sports team and remains so for an extended period of time, fandom has an uncanny knack for pulling a range of other things into the fan experience. Though I have not been there in 20 years, I can easily imagine being at Arnie’s Doghouse in Whiting, Indiana with my dad before hopping on the expressway up to Comiskey Park to see the Chicago White Sox play. I can close my eyes and hear Jack Brickhouse’s famous call, “That’s a fly ball…deep to left…way back…HEY! HEY!” or Harry Caray’s, “Holy Cow!” for the Chicago Cubs. And I can remember the anticipation building during a cold winter walk across campus at Indiana University with friends on the way to a top 20 match up at Assembly Hall.
And now on the verge of 20 years as a Hurricanes fan, I like many others have a number of things deeply attached to my Canes hockey fandom. John Forslund and Chuck Kaiton (especially those who started early when only a little over half of the games were televised) are a deeply entrenched in the Hurricanes hockey experience. Many have friends and family, recipes and a favorite spot for tailgating that are part of their Hurricanes hockey experience. In addition, there are numerous other routines, favorite/lucky jerseys, dinner places before games and any number of other things that are forever linked with their Hurricanes hockey fandom.
One of our own
Many of these traditions and connections are fairly standard and predictable like our great announcing team or a lucky jersey. But sometimes connections to our fandom seem to rise out of nowhere to become deeply embedded in our fan experience.
For myself and many others, KK Fritsch and her rendition of the national anthem(s) before Hurricanes games is one such connection. KK, as she was dubbed by her brother, first sang the national anthem for a Hurricanes game as a substitute on October 28, 2006 when she was seven years old. From there she went on to become the Hurricanes regular anthem singer beginning with the 2007-08 season and ending her run with the 2012-13 season. She was a the beginning part of the Hurricanes home hockey experience during great times that included the fun 2008-09 season and the stunning 2009 Stanley Cup playoff run to the Eastern Conference Finals. And she was also part of what was arguably our hockey community’s proudest time as a fan base during Jeff Skinner’s magical 2010-11 rookie season and the wonderful job that our hockey community did hosting the broader hockey world for the 2011 All-Star Game.
KK Fritsch did an admirable job performing the national anthem, and she definitely deserved bonus points based on the fact that the vast majority of her performances occurred before she was even a teenager. But for me personally, more significant than her impressive singing voice was her infectious energy and the very simple fact that she was one of our own.
Despite her young age, KK was old school in her respect and reverence performing the national anthem with her right hand firmly on her heart. But what made it for me was the huge, infectious smile and enthusiastic wave as she finished the anthem. And that paired incredibly well with her famous pink cowboy boots that offered a little bit of flare and also served as an appropriate reminder of her young age.
Now roughly five years removed from the end of her time as our anthem singer, Canes and Coffee is thrilled to check in with KK Fritsch in a short interview which follows.
KK Fritsch ’email interview’
Canes and Coffee: What was your favorite part of your time as the Carolina Hurricanes’ national anthem singer?
KK Fritsch: My favorite parts of being the Canes National Anthem singer was honoring our Country, and being part of the Canes environment. The Canes became like an extended family to me.
Canes and Coffee: Are you still singing, and would you be kind enough to share an update on your singing career?
KK Fritsch: I have never stopped singing. I have been writing, collaborating and been part of some fun and really exciting projects along the way. Singing is one of the reasons I decided to head to Nashville for college in the fall. I hope to continue performing there.
Canes and Coffee: Do you have one fun story that you would be willing to share from your time as the Hurricanes’ anthem singer?
KK Fritsch: Not really a story, but a tradition…Stormy and I had a handshake we did before every game, which was cool to share with him. We still enjoy a fun relationship to this day.
Canes and Coffee: Is there any chance for a memory lane guest appearance as the Hurricanes’ anthem singer in the future?
KK Fritsch: Yes. I have not performed the national anthem in public since I walked off the ice 5 years ago. I would like to return one day, hopefully soon.
Canes and Coffee: Are the pink boots neatly tucked away somewhere in case we need them someday for a Carolina Hurricanes hockey museum? 🙂
KK Fritsch: Yes, I have all the pink boots I wore over the course of my time singing (and before).
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for interviewing me and to the Canes and the fans who were always so great to me. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity I was given. It was an amazing experience.
For those who wish to check in on KK Fritsch’s music career, the best place to find recent clips of her singing is on Instagram where she is kk_fritsch.
Finally, for those who want to reminisce, below is a picture of the famous pink boots that definitely belong in a Carolina Hurricanes hockey Hall of Fame when we create one, and here also is a link to video of her rendition of the anthem from on Youtube.
Canes and Coffee would like to extend a huge thank you to KK Fritsch for her time as our national anthem singer and also for generously agreeing to share her experience and provide a quick update on her career in this interview.