[Editor's note: Renee, a long-time Caps season ticket-holder, won the ultimate prize in the Caps annual "Jerseys Off Our Backs" event on Fan Appreciation night. Here's her story.]
I started off my Friday like anyone else — scrambling to get work done before the week ended. But one phone call ended my productivity: I had been randomly selected for the “Jersey Off Our Backs” event on Fan Appreciation Day. As a longtime season-ticket holder, this is one event I’ve watched with awe – even back when the Caps would toss their signed jerseys haphazardly over the glass to waiting fans. Long story short, I didn’t get much done on Friday.
Fast-forward to game day. I watched periods one and two like anyone else — anxious to have the Caps produce on what looked to be good play despite the 0-2 score at the end of the 2nd. As the 3rd period started, I gathered with a crowd of lucky fans in the concourse. Count was taken and we were ultimately asked to pick a random manila envelope from our host — the envelope that held each of our future jersey’s numbers. We were escorted underground to wait for the end of the game. None of us saw Mike Green’s goals to tie it up, but we heard the crowd’s amazing cheers and we celebrated too. We followed tweets and text messages from friends and family in the arena, trying to harness the excitement of broken glass and overtime. The horn sounded a win and the crowd erupted in a frenzy. From the end of the hall, we watched the Bruins, heads down, trek to their locker room. And then it was our time.
We stepped onto the ice, looking back at the crowd from a vantage point you rarely get. It’s a grand place, there on the ice, looking up. The Caps skated out and stood at the blue line, looking at us, us looking at them. Anyone standing on that carpet who says they weren’t giddy is lying. We snapped photos. We giggled. At that point, I could’ve been offered ANY player’s number and I would’ve smiled — it was just that kind of night.
But, when I opened my envelope and saw a number 8 and realized that the captain of the team, the Rocket Richard winner, and arguably the best player in the NHL was skating up to me to give me his jersey…well, I can tell you I didn’t remember much after that.
I love the Caps, I love all of them. But I can’t deny that having Ovi hand me his jersey, signed, and then pose with me for a photo makes me one of the luckiest people on Earth. I don’t remember him saying much besides the niceties anyone would expect. I remember saying “thank you” a bunch of times, smiling ear-to-ear, and thinking to myself that I’d never complain about the price of hockey tickets again.
How did I get picked to be here? How did I pick *that* envelope? And, perhaps a better question, did I just blow my entire life-savings of luck on this one night? If I did, I think it might have been worth it.
Section 107 Row T seat 2? Hey, that’s Renee!
The winners eagerly wait for the event to start.
As do the players.
Mike Ribeiro signs his jersey.
The Great Eight!
One wonders if he told Renee any “In Soviet Russia” jokes.
The Paralyzer manages not to stun a fan while giving away his jersey.
All photos via Renee.