An open letter to the Nashville Predators:

 

You don’t know me, but I know you. My parents bought season tickets for our family of four in 1998 when you first came to Nashville.

 

I was four years old.

 

We sat on the very first row in section 301, just above the Taco Bell sign. Back in those days, four goals meant free tacos instead of frostys.

 

A large majority of my childhood was spent cheering you all on.

 

Sure, at the beginning I was pretty much just in it for the Dippin’ Dots and funnel cakes, but I gradually learned the game and my fandom grew.

 

From those four seats in 301, my family and I spent countless hours together.

 

I leaned the phrase “You suck!” From a rowdy crowd two sections to my right.  I also learned just as quickly from my mother that I was not allowed to say it outside of the arena.

 

I cheered for Jordan TooToo and secretly hoped for a couple of punches from him to be thrown every night.

 

Tomas  Vokun was the spark in my love for hockey goalies.

 

I had a crush on the dreamy Kārlis Skrastiņš that only grew the second I found out we had the same birthday. I still remember shaking as he signed my jersey after a game one night.

 

By the same respect, my heart broke my junior year of high school when I heard he tragically passed in a plane crash.

 

I’ve been to 7 goal victories and heartbreaking losses.

 

I’ve sung Tim McGraw at the top of my lungs more times than I could even count.

 

I’ve high-fived strangers, taken my college roommates to their first hockey game, and tried my absolutely hardest to just once be the Fantastic Fan of the Game.

 

But nothing, nothing compares to the season you all just gave us.

 

You all gave us a sense of pride and unity as a city.

 

You gave us a reason to nod at the person driving into work beside us as they too wore their jersey into the office.

 

You gave us a reason to stand out on the streets with a couple thousand of our closest friends all cheering for one purpose.

 

You gave us a reason to believe that a wildcard can SWEEP the 1 seed, because of course they can!

 

You brought country music stars, NFL players, and hockey fans from all over the world to our home so that we could show them just how amazing Nashville truly is.

 

I know you aren’t pleased with the result. I just finished my senior season as a Division 1 athlete, and I, on a much smaller scale,  understand coming up just short of you ultimate goal.

 

But from a fan of 18 years, you’ve given us a season that we will talk about for years to come.

 

You played your hearts out doing what you love, and brought an entire community together in the process.

 

So from Smashville to the 2016-2017 Nashville Predators,

 

Thank you.

 

We could not possibly be more proud to call ourselves your fans.

 

See you in October.

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