A love letter to Alabama Hockey
The First Chapter
In June of 2018, if you would have told me that the internship position I found just through Instagram would now be something I am crying writing my final goodbye to four years later, I would've told you that that is probably super realistic because I am emotional over stuff like this.
Over my first year in the Alabama Hockey program, I worked Snapchat from the bench, Twitter from the booth, chuck-a-puck - where I did fall many times on the ice, merchandise, jumbotron, lights, music, and just about anything in between. I wore many hats my Freshman year of college but my favorite was always the one I put on when it was Alabama Hockey time. My freshman year was the first time my mom asked me why I didn't want to work for the football team at the largest football school and why I was so attached to the club hockey team. It was a question that I would blow off when she would ask. It did not matter what answer I gave her, I knew I was home.
I spent my first college summer in Pittsburgh living with my grandparents begging for the Penguins to hire me for the Summer. I also spent this lonely summer interviewing new interns alongside fellow colleagues in the program for positions we knew we would need. I was promoted to Head of Marketing.
After Pittsburgh, I packed up for my sophomore year of college and second year with Alabama Hockey. This season brought so many ups and downs. I had learned how to be a leader, fundraised for the American Legion through a specialty game, and had to even come to terms with the fact that I was not always right. But this season also brought me a boyfriend. I met player number 92, Trey Howes. Now, I do not usually think getting involved in a place where you also are a professional is always the best impression. But, it didn't matter. I was in love and I still am. It took me a while to realize he was flirting with me because his way of getting to me was offering me a Dunkin coffee just about every pre-game. The Delaney of 2019 did not realize this was flirting and instead I would send him an order list of every intern I offered it to because I thought it was an open invitation for coffee. This was also the season a fun little thing called the pandemic hit. I was crushed.
That summer I had no idea what would happen to the program and if it would survive a pandemic since it was funded only on ticket sales and merchandise orders. No matter, I hired interns to be a part of the program virtually for the 2020-21 season.
That year was slow, uninspiring, and frustrating in so many ways. But for the few times, we were allowed to have events, I felt electric again. Alabama Hockey fueled me. We got creative, we thought outside the box and we even got to fundraise $50,000 to save the locker room and their future season for 2021-22.
In February of 2021, I made a best friend. I was asked to be a part of an interview by none other than Katy Gibralter. I invited her to meet me at the location of the place I had a meeting scheduled for later that morning. She and I became friends instantly. And though she was interviewing me for an article, I subliminally interviewed her and ended up hiring her on the spot. She even stayed for the meeting I had later and instantly jumped right in with innovative ideas.
The Final Chapter
In August of 2021 when it was time to start planning for the season's home games and fundraising events I had no idea I would be this heartbroken over leaving the program. You see, I knew this was coming. I knew it all season since we released the schedule. I even wrote it on my calendar.
It read "February 4th Final Hockey Game"
But here I am the night before my final game with the Frozen Tide, crying over the thoughts of my goodbyes tomorrow. We worked the hardest we have ever worked this season.
We fundraised $8,000 for the American Legion in just twenty minutes with an off-the-back jersey auction. We celebrate wins, we evaluated losses, we grew and most importantly we became family.
How am I supposed to leave my family?
In just the same way I cried as my parents left me in Tuscaloosa on move-in day in 2018 and bawled like a baby to some strangers. I have a feeling this might be even worse.
You see, I grew up in this program. I became my true self here. I made the best friends. I fell in love here. I had my biggest successes. I had some of my lowest lows. And everything else in between.
So this year when my mom asked me for the fourth year in a row why I didn't just work for the football team, she already knew the answer. She knew that her daughter found a home.
And just like leaving home for college, I am having a hard time leaving my home here for my future.
I have never been more proud to be a part of something in my life. This will always have my heart in so many ways. Thank you to the staff, fans, players, supporters, donators, and anyone else for making my time here special.
Thank you for making this goodbye so hard.
The girl who worked for the hockey team at a football school
From my first year to my last. Thank you.