7/5/11 - FINAL EDITION: DREAM. SMILE. HOPE. LOVE. KINGS…

Anyone who has a 2011 Ice Crew Swimsuit calendar signed by me recognizes the title of this blog. I feel like the first four words in this title very completely describe the way I’ve lived my entire life. The last word describes the way I’ve lived the last three years. Let me enlighten you…

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” ~Confucius

When I showed up at STAPLES Center for the inaugural Kings Ice Crew tryouts in September of 2008 I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I was there with a couple of friends who encouraged me to go with them, and we were surrounded by aspiring actresses, models and others who had come to Los Angeles to pursue a dream. I was just a girl from Southern California who grew up figure skating and watching hockey – a rarity, I know. The rest, as they say, is history – a history that has very literally unfolded in the public eye, through Kings Vision, LAKings.com, Allie MacKay’s KTLA Morning News Reports, Brandon Showers Photography, Facebook, Twitter, and this very blog, among others. I know now what I didn’t know three years ago: that fateful day, as I went through the skating drills with a number pinned to my hip, was the beginning of one of the most thrilling, influential, and life-changing adventures I’m sure I’ll ever experience, and it proved to me that in this city, dreams really do come true. Who knew?!?

“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” ~Antoine de Saint Exupery

Retiring from the Ice Crew is one of the toughest and most painful decisions I will ever have to make. I have had the time of my life with this organization, through the things I’ve gotten to be a part of, and the people I’ve met, whose impressionable footprints will forever remain on my soul. However, after three years, it’s not necessarily that I want to leave, but more so that I know I need to. I have literally put my blood, sweat, and tears into this role and I know in my heart of hearts that I’ve left everything on the table – I’ve given all I know how to give and I’ve done more here than I ever thought possible. I feel like I’m being vague, but I think that after all the blogs I’ve written I’ve already told my story, and this is just a recap. I am confident that I have left my returning teammates with a legacy that I’m proud of, as well as the comfort of knowing I’m not going far. It will be a bittersweet moment for me as I watch the new Crew make their team debut at the end of the summer, but I know that in my absence someone else will have the opportunity to make differences, touch dreams, and change lives.

“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” ~Dr. Seuss

I realize that all the tissue boxes I’ve emptied in the last couple of months are laughing at this quote, but I promise, I can tie it in. When I think about all of the lessons I’ve learned in my time here – and trust me, there have been many – there is one that is particularly unique and probably my favorite. I’ve learned how to smile at nothing – and by nothing I mean everything – because when you’re smiling on the outside you can’t help but be smiling on the inside. I have graciously received many compliments on my ability to smile while shoveling snow. Let me tell you, it’s not easy when you aren’t smiling at something or someone specific…at least it wasn’t at first. In the beginning I used to have to tell myself funny things or make fun of something in order to crack a smile as the gate opened during media timeouts. (I’m serious, don’t laugh!) Eventually, although I’d still say silly things to whomever happened to be close enough to hear, I found it was easy to smile while out on the ice. I loved being out there. I loved skating, and I loved knowing that I was skating next to some of the greatest players to ever lace up the skates. I was happy being in front of the fans with my teammates, waving to friends and total strangers. It became so natural to smile just because everything about being out there made it that way, and I really do feel that I’ve been able to apply that proficiency to other areas of my life.

“You can’t stop progress. It’s time to move on.” ~Terry Murray

I want to say this: I would not be leaving if I didn’t truly believe that the future is going to be brighter than the past…and that’s saying a lot. I feel like after three seasons I’ve done everything and given all I can to this team and this organization in this capacity, and I’m looking forward to what lies ahead. I’ll definitely stay connected with the Ice Crew, working auditions, helping out at rehearsals to get the new team transitioned, and I’ve also been charged with the task of organizing an ‘LA Kings Ice Crew Alumni’ group of sorts, which will be actively involved in the Kings community – this I’m SUPER excited about! I will also continue to write for the LA Kings Alumni Association, and I’ll be contributing content as a freelance writer to LAKings.com – my first assignment being to cover the 2011-2012 Ice Crew Auditons! (Shocker!) Shame on all of you who thought I was going to retire from the Crew, fall off the face of the planet, and forget about the Kings altogether. You aren’t getting rid of me THAT easily. ;)

“We’re a picture in my mind. When I want to find you I just close my eyes.” ~Ryan Cabrera

I’m pretty sure that by now everyone has figured out that I am our own team paparazzi. If I had to guess I’d say I’ve taken a few thousand Kings-related photos since I’ve been here. I guess that’ll explain how I’ve gone through three cameras. Anyways, I’ve finally used all my photos to create something amazing. My masterpiece, I call it. My technically-challenged self spent the last three months putting together a video montage to serve as a tribute and a thank you card to everyone who has made this experience what it was. When I thought about what I could do to thank everyone, thank you cards just didn’t seem sufficient, and I thought it would take WAY too long to write them for everyone I wanted to include. Turns out they wouldn’t have been sufficient, but it probably would have saved me some time! In my video, I chose each song very deliberately and it is the words and music that are telling the story – the photos are simply the supporting evidence.

The first song I chose because there was nothing about this experience that didn’t leave me breathless. Many of the photos in this segment are moments in time that, for my own crazy reasons, are the moments I treasured most.

I’ve met some of my best friends through this organization – people I can’t imagine living life without. I had my share of personal struggles during my time here, and I can’t say I would have fared so well without the love and support I received from these very special people. The second song I chose represents the unconditional bonds I’ve formed here and what they’ve meant to me.

The third song really struck a chord in me the first time I heard it. The words to the song so perfectly describe the way I live my life and the way I’ve viewed my time with the Kings. It is my every hope that you’ll agree.

The fourth song is one Taylor Swift wrote for the members of her band; the words are so uniquely applicable here, and I dedicate this part of the montage exclusively to the beautifully talented people I have been so fortunately able to call my teammates the last three seasons. My teammates and I have battled in the trenches and been celebrated as heroes…all of which we did together, side by side, hand in hand. I wholeheartedly believe that my teammates gave me a second chance to relive a part of my youth I feel I missed out on the first time around, and for that I am eternally grateful.

The last song needs not any explanation. The lyrics are the perfect ending to…well…let’s just say your attention span. Kudos to you if you’ve managed to read this far into my blog, and it is commendable if you’re still paying attention by the time the last song ends. Hopefully it’ll be worth it. ;)

Before I unveil my masterpiece I want to close with this. It has been nothing short of my greatest honor and pleasure to serve the Kings organization and its amazing fans, along with my friends and family these last three seasons. Trust me when I say it has meant more to me than you’ll ever know.

All it takes is a little DREAM to put a SMILE on your face, and a little HOPE to be able to do what you LOVE. All of this I did with the KINGS…

"DREAM. SMILE. HOPE. LOVE. KINGS..." from Debbie on Vimeo.

My Challenge To You

First of all, I want to thank everyone for all the thoughtful messages and sentiments following my previous blog. I honestly didn’t budget for all the emotions I felt as a result of fan reactions and response. I am truly touched at the idea that I made a significant enough impression on people that they were compelled to express their feelings. It is a very rewarding feeling – thank you. Just a heads up, this is not my last blog – be on the lookout for something special next week. ;)

Even though I’m leaving, my focus is still turning to next year’s team. With the 2011-2012 Ice Crew Auditions only a couple weeks away, I’m sure a lot of you reading this are getting prepped and excited. You know what? I am, too! I will be working auditions this year and you can bet I’m looking forward to seeing all the potential candidates and what they can possibly bring to the new team. I suppose in a way I’m kind of searching for my own replacement!

If you’re reading this, I can only assume that you’ve already looked at all the audition information, tips, and FAQs that are posted online – if you haven’t, what the heck are you waiting for? After going through auditions three times, twice as a veteran (these photos are my last two audition photos), I have plenty of advice. (Check out last year’s audition tips blog HERE.) At this point, the one thing I can offer that you won’t hear or read anywhere else is this: know what you’re getting yourself into!!! Know about hockey in general, have basic knowledge of the Kings team, and for goodness sake, know what the Ice Crew does!

During the skating portion of last year’s auditions, we were going through the drills, and I was standing next to the same group of girls for most of the audition because we were in numerical order. The girls were asking me all kinds of questions about being an Ice Crew member, and that’s fine – I don’t mind answering questions and giving helpful information, and I’m sure my teammates feel the same way. But near the end of the drills, one of the girls looked up and asked me: “So, were you, like, on the team last year or something?” I can’t even imagine what my face looked like at that point, and I can’t put in writing what went through my head in that moment.

The next day, during the improv portion with the boys, some guy came up to me and started talking to me about the audition process and found out I was a veteran. He said this: “Oh yeah, I heard that you all have to re-audition every year. I read it last night in that girl’s blog.” Enough said.

I was horrified in both these situations, but I can look back on it now and laugh, and I hope you found the humor in them as well. Let the record show that it wasn’t because of me, but neither of these people made our team this year. It was clear to me that some people don’t do their research before coming into auditions and you definitely don’t want to be one of those people who leave a bad taste in the mouth of someone who could potentially be your teammate for a year or more.

So for anyone auditioning, here’s my challenge: my retirement is leaving at least one spot on the team open for someone absolutely amazing. In my personal opinion this person needs to love hockey, skating, the Kings, interacting with fans, making positive contributions to the Kings community, working hard, and playing hard. This person also needs to be able to uphold a high standard of team as well as personal integrity and should always have the team’s best interest in mind. This person obviously needs to demonstrate good character, personality, and a positive attitude, and I know I’ve said this somewhere before, but it’s important, so I’ll say it again: I want someone who doesn’t just do the job, I want someone who IS the job.

I am leaving a team, a role, and teammates that have changed my life for the better in the last three years. I’d love to know that the program that has given so much to me is being given back to in my absence. I want so badly to be proud of all the girls that continue the post-goal Ice Girl high-five in the Zam corner that I started back in October of 2008, I want to still be captivated by the guys’ on-ice slingshot t-shirt toss like I always have been, and I want to know that the corner spot in the locker room that has been mine for the last three years will go to someone who deserves that little patch of carpet.

Find me this person. If you think it could be you, I’ll be at auditions, waiting. Prove it.

6/7/11 - In This Moment

Long time no write, I know – my apologies. Hope everyone is doing well and enjoying their summer. I have been watching the Playoffs as much as possible and am happy to see two teams in the Final that are deserving and haven’t won a Cup recently. I don’t think I’m hugely in favor of one team over the other, as there are players on both teams I like, but I think if I had to pick one I’d go with Boston just because of the Kings’ recent history with Vancouver. As I’ve said before, I’m a big Tim Thomas fan, so that’d be great for him. Tonight I’m having a bunch of my teammates over to watch Game 3, so hopefully we’ll be treated to a great game.

Yesterday I worked an appearance with Steve, Tim, Alyssa and Sande – we were on the Cal State Northridge campus for the 4th Annual Walk on the Horizon, which benefits adults with developmental disabilities. It was a rewarding appearance because we could tell we were making a positive impact on the walk participants and were helping to brighten someone’s day. In this photo we are with Rafer Johnson, Olympic Gold Medalist, who was the Grand Marshall of the event. During the summer the Ice Crew still has a slew of appearances to work. It’s not nearly as much work as during the season, but at least it allows us to see each other occasionally and keep our hockey spirit alive.

Since this is my first blog in a while I never wrote about our playoff experience. I’m only going to comment on a couple of things. The first thing is a personal pat on the back: during each pre-game festival I was assigned to sell Kings Eye Black stickers to raise money for Kings Care. Between all three home games I sold over $1,000 worth of stickers…ALL BY MYSELF!!! Whenever I can talk about raising money for Kings Care I will – especially when it contributes to my own selfish pride. ;)

The second thing I want to make note of is something I’ll remember for the rest of my life. When we lost in OT in Game 6, it was a shocker – my teammates and I were huddled in the Zam corner, arm in arm, watching. When Thornton put that final nail in the coffin I felt like someone punched me in the stomach. I left my teammates to creep up to the glass for a better look. When I turned around to walk back, my heart leapt into my throat. There were five of my teammates, looking at me, tears streaming down each of their faces. The waterworks came. Michelle, Natalie, Mellissa, Vanessa, Cassie and I cried, hugged, and watched in stunned horror as we realized that what had meant so much to us for the last nine months came to a screeching halt – and there was nothing we could do about it.  We sat in our seats in the Zam corner for about 30 minutes after the game ended, reflecting in silence. It was all we could do to hold on just a little bit longer. In three seasons I don’t ever remember a sob fest like that one, and it was clear that my teammates had poured their hearts and souls into our team and I was honored to have been there in that moment with them, no matter how much I wished we had a box of Kleenex.

Now comes the hard part – I am dreading typing these next few sentences. One of the reasons the emotions came so easily the night of Game 6 is because I knew it was my last game. After three amazing seasons as a member of the LA Kings Ice Crew, I’m proudly hanging up my skates and uniform and am retiring at the end of the month. This decision is entirely mine and although it was a very difficult choice, in this moment I know it’s for the best. I realize I’ve probably shocked everyone, and for that I apologize. I assure you, this is not my last blog, so stay tuned for some good stuff.

4/13/11 - Hold On To Your Hats and Glasses…

This season the Western Conference Playoff race was a lot like my Ice Girl uniform – tight and unforgiving.
 
The playoff race in the West is usually really close, but this season it was a little more nerve-wracking than usual, and the perfect example of this was the Kings moving up in the standings on a day they didn’t even play! Personally it just doesn’t sound right to me and I’m not sure I like the new tie-breaking rules. BUT the Kings are in the playoffs for the second straight year, so who am I to complain???
 
Being a California native I think it’s awesome that all three California teams made the playoffs this season, and I’m really excited we’re playing one of them. I’m curious to see how the lack of travel affects both teams, and, if I can be selfish, I’m so happy that there isn’t going to be a huge time difference for the road games – makes it MUCH easier to make it home in time after work to catch the action!
 
Aside from our own series, there are a couple other series I’m going to enjoy keeping an eye on. In the West, I’m excited for the Vancouver/Chicago series. Even though it’s 1 vs. 8, the recent playoff history between these two teams will definitely add intrigue, and it’s always interesting to see how the defending champs fare in the post-season. Plus, I’d love to see Vancouver take that Presidents’ Trophy to a late-April tee time…not sure why. ;)
 
In the East, I’m most thrilled about the Montreal/Boston series. Two original six teams going at it, there is a lot of history between the two Clubs, and after that bench-clearing brawl during a game in the regular season, I expect the entire series to be extremely physical, and therefore engaging to watch. I’m also looking forward to seeing how the Canadiens treat Zdeno Chara after the controversy surrounding Chara’s hit on Max Pacioretty earlier in the year.
 
We are only a short time away from the beginning of the Kings post-season run, and my teammates and I will be all over the LA area working watch parties for the games in San Jose. I am ecstatic to be back on playoff ice and I, for one, can’t wait to feel the electricity we created in the arena during last year’s playoffs. If you are coming to STAPLES for either or all of the Round 1 games, be prepared to BRING IT. The building is going to be ROCKING, the pre-game show is going to AMAZING, and we are going to help MAKE HISTORY!!!
 
See you all there!!!

3/14/11 - SPECIAL EDITION: Ice Girls Are Like Superheroes

Have you ever wondered how Lois Lane didn’t know that Clark Kent was Superman? And did you ever think it was crazy that Mary Jane didn’t realize she was kissing her best friend underneath Spidey’s bug eyes? I certainly did – that is, until I became an Ice Girl. It’s amazing how a colorful spandex outfit can hide so many things – it is, in essence, the perfect smokescreen for every average Joe – or Joan – leading a double life.
 
When Clark worked at the Daily Planet, he blended in with the rest of society – he wore the same kind of clothing, sat in the same office, and was held to the same deadlines as every other employee. The same goes for me when I’m at my “real job” – I show up in suits wearing minimal makeup, sit in the department head meeting every Friday just like my colleagues, and nobody cares about my dinner plans if I haven’t finished a project by five o’clock. When I’m walking my dog or shopping in a store wearing my favorite jeans and a sweatshirt, I’m not given a second glance, and that’s only if there was a first glance to begin with.
 
Everything changes once I put on that sacred uniform for a game or an appearance. All of a sudden people want photos, autograph cards, and calendars signed. Strangers I’ve never met before call me by my first name, know where I went to school, and hand me mementos from my past. I may not have a billowing cape or the ability to fly, but does my black spandex really bring me super-human powers?
 
While Superheroes are off saving lives and performing community service, my teammates and I are often doing much of the same. All of the raffle tickets and swimsuit calendars we sell, along with the appearance fees we charge, all go back to charity, and let’s not forget all the USO and hospital visits, and fundraising walks we have made a regular part of our schedules.
 
Just as Spiderman has to put his duty before his personal woes, so requires the job of an Ice Girl. Makeup application is a useful art we use to hide red and puffy eyes, whether from the stress of a bad breakup or an all-night study session. Big smiles mask less-than-perfect days, protein bars and Red Bulls provide the necessary energy required for the prompt shoveling of snow after an eight-hour cocktailing shift, and baked goodies paired with ibuprofen is the perfect remedy for life’s aches and pains.
 
When the residents of Gotham City saw the Bat Signal, did they stop and think about what part of Bruce Wayne’s life was being interrupted, or who he had to leave to save the city? Probably not. But the next time you see Natalie skating hard, know she’s likely in the middle of a day at three different jobs, all of which require her to be on her feet. The next time you see Gabby waving with her Bench Captain, she probably just came from school and is headed to her second job after the game. The next time you see Alyssa high-fiving fans in the stands, you may want to ask her which is more demanding – the Ice Crew, the college cheer squad she’s a part of, or actually being a full-time student.  And the next Saturday night game of a three-game week, you can be sure that the final buzzer signifies the end of my 70-hour work week.
 
We may throw a smile and a wave your way, but like the Caped Crusaders, you’ll never see us frown or hear us complain. Why? Because we love what we do. We love putting smiles on other people’s faces, we’re die-hard hockey fans, we enjoy working for charity, and we’re proud to represent our team. For us, the uniform is an escape from the hectic hustle and bustle of reality. And at the end of the night, as crazy as life may seem, we know we can hang up the uniform and call it a day, just like…you guessed it…superheroes.
 
Despite all the similarities we share, there is one profound distinction that sets Ice Girls apart from these comic book characters…ICE GIRLS ARE REAL. :)

2/2/11 - SEEING STARS

I wasn’t too sure what I thought about the new All Star Game format when it was announced, but I have to admit, this past weekend was awesome.
 
I have always been a fan of the NHL All Star Game. My favorite ASG memory was probably in 1997 when the game was in San Jose. I remember being mad that my parents decided to take us on a family trip to San Simeon that weekend, and I made such a stink that we had to find a place where we could watch the game. Have you ever been to San Simeon? Good luck finding a place to buy gas, much less an open establishment that is willing to show you the NHL All Star Game! But we found one – and bless that poor girl’s heart who ended up having to serve my brother and me pitchers of soda all night just so we could stay and watch! That was the year hometown hero Owen Nolan scored a hat trick, and called his last shot on goalie Dominik Hasek – I will never forget how cool that was.
 
This year may not have left quite the same impression, but I did invite my teammates and co-workers over to watch the game and cheer on Kopi in fine fashion. Personally, I loved the Fantasy Draft format. Not only was watching the Draft entertaining, but it added a whole different element to All Star Weekend that had never existed. I like the fact that it made the players more involved by giving them the responsibility of picking their own teams, and I also think it made watching the Skills Competition and the Game itself more interesting because unlike in the past where the same players would play for the same team year after year, you saw new dynamics and new player relationships being formed.
 
In addition, I think the new twists on the Super Skills Competition were awesome. I loved the Skills Challenge Relay – watching the players execute those impossible looking tasks and making them look easy just reminded me how much skill is required in playing this game. I don’t remember there being so many ways to earn points in past Competitions, and having so much more to watch this year just made it that much better. I thought it was awesome seeing Patrick Kane filming the competition himself with his Flip Cam, and I also loved seeing the celebratory exhilaration on Zdeno Chara’s face when he broke his own record to win the Hardest Shot Contest. J
 
I was definitely stoked to see Kopi in the Breakaway Challenge, and we were all proud of him when he scored his two goals on Sunday. Cassie and I tried our hardest to win him the MVP Award, but obviously someone in Chicago was a little better on the texting trigger than we were. ;)
 
I can’t believe we are more than halfway through the season, and I’m bummed that we have nearly a month off in between home games. The longest break I ever remember from before was maybe a little more than two weeks. But down the stretch we go in our push towards the playoffs, which I fully expect to be nothing short of spectacular. On a fun side note, my Fantasy team is in first place coming off the All Star Break. Let’s see how long that lasts…
 
(By the way, for any curiously concerned folks out there, I did get a new camera. ;) )

 

1/19/11 - ODE TO MY CAMERA

I never left home without it. It was worth its weight in gold. It completed me.

If you haven’t already guessed by the title, I am referring to my trusty camera. Born to me in April of 2009, this little Cannon SD880, was small but mighty, accompanying me on all of my journeys and adventures, allowing me to forever freeze the smiling faces and breathtaking events that now adorn my walls, office space, cell phone, photo wallet, and whatever else could possibly hold a Kodak moment. There was never a milestone uncaptured, a birthday unaccounted for, or a funny face I haven’t been able to use as black mail.

I stopped on the way to Vegas for Frozen Fury simply to purchase a wristlet that would hold my camera and my cell phone, my only two real necessities for a night on the town, or any other event that required the detaining of baggage.

I was The Girl with the Camera. In all of my seasons with the Kings it was I that everyone held up their peace signs for, stuck their tongues out to, and begged pleadingly for digital copies. My second season alone I took more than 1,000 Kings-related snapshots (don’t ask me how I know this!), an Ice Crew Member feat which may never again be duplicated.

What happened, you ask? If the smoking flash in the last few months wasn’t an indication of my poor, helpless friend’s overuse, the final straw came when, at STAPLES Center before a recent game, I was posing in the arms of a long-lost companion when Carrlyn disgustedly exclaimed: “what’s wrong with your camera?!?” My heart sank. Sure enough, the LCD screen boasted a small black smudge and colored lines all throughout. Although I was still able to take photos, the camera was never the same, and if that wasn’t bad enough, a few days later I had it in my jacket pocket, and as I jumped up to celebrate a goal, the camera fell with a hard thud to the cement on the Zam tunnel floor.

The original cause of illness is still to this day unknown. Was it a clever ruse by my overly-photographed Pug? A vindictive ploy by a teammate whose “bad side” was posted in a previous blog? Perhaps a carefully timed self-destruction by Cannon, the camera’s biological creators, in an attempt to force my hand and paychecks at a newer model? I suppose some mysteries are better left unsolved…

12/22/10 - HAPPY HOLIDAYS

I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season thus far. Mine has been busy, which is definitely the reason for the lack of blogs! In case any of you are wondering, my "Yams are Yucky" charity donation turned out to be $124, so thanks so much to everyone who purchased a Swimsuit Calendar or Bailey's Buddies Kit during the 11/27 game! I was very pleased with the result and appreciate all the support - it was definitely a personally rewarding project. :) 

This year my teammates and I were invited to participate in the Hollywood Christmas Parade once more and although the route was FREEZING and WINDY, we had a fantastic time, as we did last year. I used one of the photos from our pre-parade festivities for my own personal holiday card this year...cute, huh? ;) 

So here's a random bit of information from the Ice Crew camp. The girls and I have been wearing our silver holiday outfits (or as I like to call them, our "space Eskimo suits") for the last couple of games and we will continue to wear them for the rest of the month. People are constantly asking us whether or not we're cold, and the truth is, our holiday outfits are way warmer than our normal uniforms! I think the reasoning is that the fabric the holiday outfits are made of doesn't breathe, the sleeves are longer, and with all our tights, shorts, etc., we actually have more layers on...not to mention the outfits are trimmed with fake fur! So there you have it - one of the biggest Ice Girl secrets revealed. ;) 

Last Saturday night I hosted a small holiday gathering at my place for those of my teammates who were able to make it and we had a great time. At this time of year it's difficult to get everyone together, but I always enjoy the holidays with my teammates and this year was no different. By the end of the night, the game "Catch Phrase" was in full swing, and I'm proud to say (although the boys will kill me for putting this in my blog) the girls took it. :P 

So recently, on our Ice Crew Facebook page, we posed a question to all our fans, asking them what their favorite holiday gift has been. Although I don't post on our page, it actually got me thinking about what my best gift was, and it wasn't too hard to come up with an answer. My favorite gift by far was my little Pug, Chile, whom I received for Christmas five years ago. If you haven't been able to tell from all my blogs, questionnaires and video profiles from the past three seasons, Chile is unquestionably the apple of my eye and I can't imagine my life without him. After a long day of work, many times at more than one job, Chile is always waiting for me with those huge, loving eyes and he is a constant reminder for me to stop and enjoy the small but significant things in life. This photo of Chile is the other photo I used on my personal holiday card this year. :) 
 
On that note, I want to take this time to wish everyone a safe and joyous holiday season, and all the best for a happy, healthy 2011. I am fortunate that this is my third holiday being with the Kings organization and all my teammates, co-workers and even the fans add something to this time of year that makes me all warm and fuzzy inside - and no, that has nothing to do with our holiday outfits! I'm going to raise my hypothetical glass and toast to a few things...to the joys of the season, my Kings Family, and of course the warm fuzzies...CHEERS! 

 

11/24/10 - Yams Are Yucky

I’m not a fan of carved turkey, I think yams are yucky, I’m grateful that pumpkin pie is only served once a year, and forget a four-day holiday – I’ll be lucky to get ONE day off this weekend. So what’s so significant about this time of year for me???

I, for one, have much to be thankful for.

Of course I’m thankful for the food I eat, the birds that sing, and everything else in that little rhyme we all learned in grade school, but for this year, here is what I’m thankful for and my very personal reasons why.

First off, I’m thankful that I have not one job, but two that I enjoy that allow me to keep my dog and myself safe, warm, dry, and fed. At the beginning of last season I was laid off from my full-time job and that made it difficult to pay regular bills, much less make it through the holidays. I realize I was very lucky to find a great job when I did and I know that there are still people out there who are unemployed, and worse than I was last year are those that have families they need to support.

Secondly, I’m thankful for my health, and that of my family and friends (including my dog!). Last year my teammates and I had the privilege of visiting the City of Hope Medical Center in Duarte to help bring a little joy to some of the patients there as well as their families. Getting to interact with them drove home the point that I am unspeakably lucky to be healthy and that nobody particularly close to me has ever had any serious health problems to where I had to spend the holidays in a waiting room. Knock on wood.

I am also thankful that I get to spend the holidays with my family, which is probably something I’ve taken for granted in years past just because it’s how I’ve spent EVERY Thanksgiving and Christmas. My parents live about 25 miles from me, and I know I complain about LA traffic with the best (or worst) of them, but it’s laughably nothing compared to all those people in the military who are overseas and have to rely on Skype and video messaging to see their families right now, and I even have too many friends who can’t afford to fly home for the holidays or whose bosses won’t let them have the time off work to be with loved ones. I am so spoiled to not know what that’s like.

I’d have to say one of the most unique things I’m thankful for is that my job with the Kings allows me the opportunity to do so many things I love – one of them being writing this blog – to reach out and hopefully inspire people, something that would be much harder otherwise. To fully illustrate my point and turn what would seem like a sad blog entry of sorts into a moving one, I’m going to make deal with anyone and everyone reading this blog.

Two of Game Presentation’s biggest charitable initiatives are the sale of Bailey’s Buddies Memberships/Kits and the Ice Crew Swimsuit Calendar. All the proceeds from the sale of these two items go directly to the Kings Care Foundation, which is something our department is extremely proud of, myself included. Right now, aside from purchasing your own calendar you can also donate one to a soldier, which my teammates and I will personally deliver and autograph when we visit the USO at LAX. (Buying a calendar = $20; buying + donating to a soldier = $30; donating to a soldier = $15.)

HERE’S THE DEAL: For each Bailey’s Buddies Membership and Swimsuit Calendar that is purchased (including the donated calendars) in person at STAPLES Center this Saturday, November 27th I will PERSONALLY donate $1 to the Kings Care Foundation. If you aren’t going to be at the Kings/Blackhawks game, don’t sweat it. Saturday happens to be the Grand Opening of Holiday Ice at LA Live Plaza, and from 3PM – 6PM Natalie, Cassie, La Trycee and I will be there greeting, skating, and of course selling calendars and Bailey’s Buddies Memberships.

So just to confirm, I’m not asking you to give a straight donation or give up hours of your time to volunteer for something, but if you’re already coming to the Kings game or want to come check out the debut of Holiday Ice, you can purchase a calendar or Bailey’s Buddies Membership either for yourself or to give as a holiday gift, and I will donate $1 more to the Kings Care Foundation. If you were thinking of buying one anyway, this is the day to do it!

Why am I doing this? Let’s just say it’s because I think yams are yucky. ;)

 

11/11/10 - King of Hearts

What a start to the season we’ve had! Not only has the team been amazing, but we have been BUSY! The Ice Crew has had plenty of appearances, and we are enjoying the full swing of things. The theme for this blog entry is charity – my teammates and I, and the Kings as an organization have been involved with quite a few charitable initiatives in the last month and I am particularly proud of our contributions.

First, on Saturday, October 23rd, more than half the Ice Crew headed to Pasadena for the LA Heart Walk, where Daryl Evans captained Macy’s Go Red for Women team. Technically it was a working appearance, uniforms and all, but each of us walking the 5K donated our wages for the day back to Daryl’s team’s fundraising efforts. Heart disease is a serious threat and we were happy to show our support and raise money for such a great cause. You’ll notice in the photo that we even had some of the Crew’s four-legged kids with us that day. :)

I have to give credit to all the Kings fans out there who participated in the NHL’s first ever Twitter Hashtag battle. We dominated the Avalanche fans and made #GoKings the number one trending topic worldwide during the Kings/Avs game. CRAZY!!! Together we helped raise a significant amount of money for Children’s Hospital, Los Angeles, and I have to admit, it was tough to watch the actual game when I was so busy Tweeting! :)

One of the Ice Crew’s biggest charitable initiatives is our calendar. Our 2011 Kings Ice Crew Swimsuit Calendar debuted on October 28th and they are currently on sale now at all Kings home games, or you can buy yours by clicking HERE. Calendars are $19.95 and all proceeds go to the Kings Care Foundation. Last year’s calendar raised over $10,000 for Kings Care and this year we hope to beat that total! A bonus to this year’s calendar is that it’s a 14-month calendar (starting with November 2010!), whereas last year’s was only 12 – and the price is exactly the same – you do the math! We are also still donating calendars to Operation Gratitude, where you can purchase a calendar for yourself and you can donate one to a soldier for a combined price of $30, or you can just donate one for $15. With the holidays coming up it’s a great way to give back! :)

This past weekend, the Kings held their biggest annual fundraiser, Tip-A-King. All proceeds from Tip-A-King also benefit the Kings Care Foundation and the event is a personal favorite of mine. I got to walk around with my teammates Eric and Steve throughout the entire event selling Tip-A-Kings dollars to fans in attendance. It may sound monotonous, but I loved it – I got to enjoy the whole event – fans, experiences and all. I must say I thought that the day was very well-organized overall, as all the fans pretty much got to do everything they wanted and there were some pretty cool experiences to take part in, like the flip book with Kevin Westgarth, the double take photo with Jarret Stoll, and the bench photo with Jamie Kompon and John Stevens, among others.

I realize that to an outsider, the Ice Crew may seem like a lot of glitz and glamour, but we definitely do our part to contribute where we can. In the words of Maya Angelou, "I have learned that you cannot go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands – you have to be able to throw something back."

Mission: in progress. :)



LAKings.com is the official Web site of the Los Angeles Kings. Los Angeles Kings and LAKings.com are trademarks of the Los Angeles Kings Hockey Club LP, an AEG Company. NHL and the word mark and image of the Stanley Cup are registered trademarks and the NHL Shield and NHL Conference logos are trademarks of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 2010 Los Angeles Kings Hockey Club and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.
TERMS OF USE | PRIVACY POLICY | DISCLAIMER | CONTACT US | JOBS | WEBMASTER | FAQ | NHL.com TERMS OF USE | SITE MAP