Photo by Kayvon Sari (@TheAbsolomb)
Despite a prolonged lockout, there are still Washington Capitals fans out there doing brand evangelism. These people still rep their Caps fandom, no matter how much the absence of NHL hockey bums us out. Kayvon Sari is such a man.
A few days before every blog on the internet posted that photo of Barack Obama and McKayla Maroney meeting at The White House, the Kellogg’s Tour of Gymnastics Champions rolled into town. The tour– including the gold medal-winning Fab Five of Gabby Douglas, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman, Kyla Ross, and Jordyn Wieber– features gymnasts pairing their talents with performance art. Following on the heels of the London Summer Olympics, the tour has sold out venues across the country.
17-year-old Kayvon Sari, a native of Bethesda and a former gymnast himself, had tickets for the show at the Verizon Center on November 12. A huge fan of Maroney, Kayvon was well aware that the smirking gymnast would be visiting Washington DC for the first time. He wanted to give her a souvenir to commemorate the visit.
The previous Christmas, Sari, who has been to five hockey games, was given a fitted Capitals hat from one of his dad’s co-workers. Not much of a hat person, Kavyon allowed the hat to collect dust in his room. As the Caps are still DC’s most winningest team, Kayvon decided to re-gift the hat. “Hockey is so fun to watch on TV or in-person, much like gymnastics,” Kayvon told me. “Though in gymnastics no one brawls.”
Kayvon packed the Caps hat with his gear and took off for the Verizon Center. When he arrived, he bought a program and took his seat. The show was predictably great (anything Nastia Liukin does is tremendous), but what happened next was even better.
Some fans were allowed to participate in a post-show meet and greet. Kayvon trudged downstairs to the locker-room area and waited. When he made it to Maroney, he handed her his program and she signed it. Then, after gathering his courage, he gave her the present.
“Her eyes opened up a bit and asked me, ‘Really?’” Kayvon said. “I insisted she keep it.” McKayla, shocked by the gesture, proudly put the Caps hat on. Kayvon then asked if he could take a picture. McKayla obliged.
“The whole experience was surreal,” Kayvon divulged. “I’m never gonna forget it.”
When Kayvon got home, he tweeted the photo to McKayla, asking her how she liked her new cap. “LOVE IT!!” Maroney responded, re-tweeting the image out to her 485,000-plus followers.
Gymnastics and hockey have little to do with each other (except when Braden Holtby does a split), but on this night the two sports collided. With that gesture, Kayvon made his favorite athlete’s night. No matter how much bickering goes on between players and owners about a new CBA, hockey is still bringing people together. Even if it is just a silly Caps hat.
Kayvon’s signed program.
Special thanks to Jordan Tenenbaum, who first told us about the photo.