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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Diary of a Sharks fan: Journalist gets an inside look

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As a child, I spent many a night in what was then called the HP Pavilion, the home of the San Jose Sharks. My dad has season tickets to see the Sharks, and when I was younger, my sister and I would alternate whose turn it was to go to each game.

Even though I started attending Sharks games when I was about 4, I can’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t a Sharks fan. So when the opportunity arose for me to participate in the High School Writers Day at the SAP Center, I jumped on the chance.

On Nov. 5, I met the other high school journalists participating in the event at the south entrance of the SAP Center, and we entered the Shark Tank through an employees-only door. We toured parts of the building I had never seen before: hidden hallways in the underground level, filled with photos and posters of both past Sharks players and musicians who had performed at the SAP Center.

While we grabbed a quick bite to eat, the other journalists and I spoke about our love for the Sharks. I was surprised to hear what hardcore Sharks fans they were; their descriptions of their favorite Sharks moments were told with clarity and detail.

After meeting and interviewing David Pollak, the Sharks beat writer for the Mercury News, we met the Sharks’ general manager, Doug Wilson. At times, Wilson ended up interviewing us by asking what we would have done if we had been in his place for certain situations. He spoke about the fine line between protecting the players’ privacy and giving the media necessary information, and for the most part, we just sat in awe, hardly asking any questions.

We then got on an elevator and headed up some stairs that led us to the press deck, located in the building’s rafters. “I hope you’re not afraid of heights,” our guide said before we arrived at the rafters, a labyrinth of narrow walkways crisscrossing each other high above the ice. I felt as if I were walking across a tightrope as we made our way to our folding chairs, which were set up in the part of the rafters where the organist sat in the Sharks’ early days, giving us a birds-eye view of the game.

The game itself was stressful. The Sharks were taking on the Buffalo Sabres, the team with the worst record in the league, and I expected an easy victory for the Sharks. But as the game began, it was clear to me that a Sharks win would be anything but easy.

The Sharks started off the game well, with a goal in the first period by Marty Havlat. The team began to slip during the second period, however, and the Sabres scored two goals. During the third period, the Sharks were able to tie up the game, 3-3; this score later morphed into 4-4.

With four minutes left in the period, we went to the area near the locker rooms in preparation for our post-game interview with a Sharks player. As we walked through the hallway, I could hear overtime music, and we were able to watch a live stream of the game in a conference room nearby.

After a heartbreaking near-goal during overtime, the Sharks entered into a shootout with the Sabres, and I knew we were done for. The other students and I sat just grumbling to ourselves as the shootout unfolded on the screen before us. The Sharks lost, predictably, and my heart sank.

We ended the night with an interview with Sharks rookie Matthew Nieto, who lamented the loss but said that he thought the Sharks played well, with a comeback near the end that was just short of a victory.

On the way home from the event, I told my parents all about my fantastic experience. In the end, I realized that’s what being a Sharks fan is about for me: spending time with my dad.

The other student journalists called themselves diehard Sharks fans; they knew all the random trivia, all the statistics. I didn’t have that knowledge, because I’ve never been interested in the numbers. I’ve just been interested in the sense of pride that wells up within me whenever I see the Sharks, that deep belief that the team is somehow mine, that to me they’re not even “the Sharks.” They’re just “us.”
 

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