This is the first in a series of reader posts that will run the week of August 22-26. A huge thank you to everyone who submitted articles!
Submitted by Matt Somma
My name is Matt Somma, and I’m an 18 year old from Cary, North Carolina. I’ll be attending UNCG in August to study Biotechnology. I’ve been a Canes fan since I was two years old, and I still am to this day. I hope to eventually start my own Canes blog and podcast in order to talk hockey with every other Canes fan!
Growing up Caniac
Studies show that your brain will not remember many things from before age five. While this may be true, one thing stands out in my mind from when I was very little. I used to love going to my grandpa’s house while my parents went to work, because it meant that I’d go and see the Hurricanes practice. Watching the Hurricanes practice was amazing to me. My grandpa took me to practices as often as he could, and was even interviewed by the local news station about the team. The interviewer tried to speak to me, but I was much too focused on the team. The Canes, of course, were all that I was there to see!
Over the years, I’ve had many experiences that have made me proud to call myself a Hurricanes fan. I will never forget how disappointed I was that there wouldn’t be any hockey for a whole year in 2004. I understood that the hockey players didn’t agree with the owners, but that was about it. I like to think that I understood the whole concept of a lockout when I said “It’s okay mom, hockey players fight all the time!” After the lockout, there were plenty of job opportunities at the RBC Center, so my dad decided to take up a part time job in The Eye. After he got hired, my dad was instantly the coolest guy ever. “Dad, did you meet Matt Cullen?” Was the question that I’d ask him after every game, and much to my disappointment, the answer was always a simple “not tonight buddy.”
When I heard that the Hurricanes were going to be in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, I decided that I’d wear my jersey to school once every week while they were still in the playoffs. When game seven of the finals rolled around, I was so excited for the game that I actually forgot about the game. I was busy playing when I checked the clock and realized that the game had already started. I ran out of my room, went downstairs, and turned the TV on. Ever the optimist, I somehow expected the Hurricanes to be down 5-0 in the first 2 minutes that I had missed. Luckily for me, and the team I suppose, the game became 1-0 Hurricanes as soon as I turned on the TV. I was only allowed to watch the first period of the game, but my dad woke me up at 1:00 AM the next morning to tell me that the Canes had done it. There was no wild celebration as there usually was, just a big smile.
In 2009, I became Rod Brind’Amour’s biggest fan. Even though it would come to be his last season with the Canes, I will never forget what he did for my family. At the Caniac Carnival, there is always a huge line to get autographs. My dad had just bought me a new jersey, and I really wanted to get Rod Brind’Amour’s autograph. The line to wait was massive, and the employees cut my family off, saying that the players had to go to practice. Rod Brind’Amour just looked at the man in charge and said “Go on, let these guys through!” My disappointment instantly turned into glee, and I believe that I broke the world record for amount of thank-yous in one minute. I had always been a Brind’Amour fan, but this moment has always been extremely special to me.
When the All Star Game came to Raleigh, my dad was given the opportunity to sell merchandise to the players in their hotel. He accepted, and I’d get calls every day talking about how he got to meet Steven Stamkos and David Backes. After he got home from the hotel one night, he gets a call on his phone. I get sent to pick it up, and I answer it the same way I always did. Here’s how the conversation basically went:
Caller: Hi, can I speak to Greg? Tell him it’s Steven Stamkos
Me: Um..I…Oh my…um…you play hockey, right?
SS: Yeah buddy, I sure do!
Me: You’re awesome! Here’s my dad!
After that, I tuned out. I wasn’t really into all of the merchandise talk. Instead, I spent the next four school days bragging to my friends about how I got to talk to an NHL player on the phone. Not many of them believed me, but everyone in my family knew the truth. I only have two souvenirs from the All Star Game. One is a simple shirt that now fits me after five years, and the other is the merchandise board from the hotel. On the board are autographs from players such as Jeff Skinner, David Backes, Steven Stamkos, and about seven to ten other players. This may not have been a big moment in my Hurricanes fandom, but it was a monumental moment in my hockey fandom. It was at this point that I started to pay attention to other players around the league, and I actually focused on every team. I began to know every little detail about a player or his team.
Nowadays, I’m an even bigger Hurricanes fan. Ever since I discovered Twitter during my freshman year of high school, I’ve been able to learn even more about the game than I ever would have imagined. This year, I created my own Hurricanes-themed Twitter account, Between the Circles. I use that account to discuss hockey with other Canes fans, promote my articles for Canes Chatter, and voice my opinions on Canes hockey. Without all of these moments in my life, I would have never stayed a fan. I’m glad that I’ve remained faithful to the local team through the good and the bad. Even though I’ll be heading to college this year, I am bringing a TV so I can continue to watch Hurricanes games.