Growing up a New York Rangers fan

By, Annalise Knudson on Sept. 28, 2015

I was only 4 years old when I first walked into Madison Square Garden surrounded by white, red and blue jerseys that made every man in the building look the same from behind. My own jersey fell past my knees and I tripped a few times while walking. It felt like hours by the time we reached the top of the Garden after traveling up the multiple escalators that I couldn’t count.

It was my first New York Rangers game with my dad, a season ticket holder, who was almost as excited as I was to wear my brand new jersey, get my face painted, and witness my first celebration of a Rangers goal.

I remember my short legs trying to run to catch up with my dad as he greeted friends that he saw only two nights before. The smell of beer plugged my nose as I begged him to buy the cotton candy that came with the striped hat that I eventually placed on my small head.

My legs were dangling off the chair and my feet swung back and forth as I licked the cotton candy off of my sticky fingers. The hat covered my whole head, but I refused to take it off, because I wanted to look like everyone else who was wearing their own hats. The men all sat around talking and drinking their beer, yelling words that were too profane for me to understand.

I only stood up as the buzzer went off and everyone jumped out of the green and purple seats. I cheered for a team I didn’t recognize. I cheered with the strangers around me that high fived me every time that buzzer went off. I watched as their hands were fisted and pumped into the air as they sang a song. I mimicked these strangers, trying to mouth the same lyrics they said.

It wasn’t until a chant arose in the Garden that roared with the words, “Let’s go Rangers,” that I realized this was the same team that my dad cheered for on television a few nights a week. The same team where jerseys hung in the closet, signed pictures, pucks, and hockey sticks took over any wall space in the basement of my house. My team, my second family, are the New York Rangers.

Fifteen years later, my jerseys are now a bigger size that are the same white, red and blue jerseys that now have different names printed on the back. Signed pictures of my favorite players cover my walls in my room, and hats dangle from the curtain rod in front of my window.

I have countless tickets that fill up my box of memories that I refuse to get rid of and memories of games that I will never forget. The seats in the Garden are no longer the same purple and green colors, but all black. The old scoreboard is replaced with a state of the art, brand new, scoreboard and my old season ticket seats are now moved to a different location after the renovation of the arena.

It doesn’t feel like the same arena I remember going to when I was younger. I sit in my new seats and stare at the strangers I don’t recognize, instead of the familiar faces I grew up to know.

But I still go to the home games at Madison Square Garden and I still take the Staten Island Ferry. I still travel my 10 stops on the subway to reach 34th street and eat at my favorite restaurant. I still wear my favorite player on my back as I go through security and have my ticket scanned. I still travel up the multiple escalators that I am too lazy to count.

The first game of the 2014 to 2015 season, my dad and I piled into our seats and I took my new Rangers hat that I bought in the store and placed it on my head. I adjusted the hat to fit my head and I watched as younger kids begged their parents to buy the cotton candy with the striped hat. I smiled and remembered when that was me as the lights turned off and the Rangers videos started to play on the scoreboard. I felt the same thrills I feel at every game as the Rangers take the ice and a permanent smile comes over my face.

I am home.

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