Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Grandpa and Pens Credited with Assists for Her Sports Fervor

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Grandpa and Pens Credited with Assists for Her Sports Fervor

Article excerpt

I love sports. I check the sports section multiple times a day and supplement my local news with a heavy dose of ESPN.

I am the volunteer coach for a club-level collegiate lacrosse team in my town because I yearn for competition. Sometimes, when I'm at a professional sports event in person, I get a little weepy during the National Anthem, a little rowdy during player introductions.

Because I was born in Pittsburgh, the Steelers have been and always will be my first love -- but I have Canadian blood in these veins, too, so a certain part of my soul belongs to the ice.

My grandpa, a man whose allegiance to the sport he once played and loved is a strong part of my memory of him, started me on hockey from a young age. We would head over to my grandparents' house once a week for a family dinner, and if it was hockey season, a game would always be on television.

As luck would have it, this influential time of my life was spent watching the likes of Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr and Ron Francis. How could a 7-year-old resist the lightning-fast, high-scoring entertainment of the NHL's premiere team back then?

One of my fondest memories is of Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals in 1991 -- Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Minnesota North Stars.

My parents were out of town, so my big brother and I spent the night with Grandma and Grandpa at their home in the South Hills. They let us stay up to watch some of the game, but as responsible baby-sitters and family caretakers, they made sure we knew before long that it was bedtime. Grandma made sure we said our prayers, then tucked us in and turned off the lights.

Now, my brother was a trouble-maker from the start. He was tall and blond and engaging -- remarkably like Zack Morris on "Saved by the Bell." I don't recall ever talking through any ingenious plan, but it is safe to assume my brother had been scheming all along. How else could one explain the small radio that suddenly appeared in the upstairs room of my grandparents' home?

With no hesitation we grabbed our blankets off the matching twin beds and huddled on the floor, keeping the volume low so as not to arouse suspicion. …

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