My name is Jason Smith and I'm a hockey addict.
But it's not my fault. I blame every bit of it on Steve.
My buddy Steve Patch took me to my first Augusta Lynx game five years ago during the hockey team's inaugural season. He always wore a black Boston Bruins cap and dedicated part of his Web site to images of the Lynx.
Since then, I've become a hockey nut. My parents even bought me a personalized Lynx jersey for Christmas this year. (It was by far my favorite gift - just don't tell my wife, who thinks my hand-held football game was the best.)
But it's partially an empty obsession.
I miss Steve.
He's been gone three years now, taken at 28 by cancer in November 1999. I first met Steve through Chris Gay, a co-worker and college buddy. We were all in communications classes together at Augusta State University and Chris and I used Steve as a crutch to get by. The cancer struck shortly after I met Steve and I watched him fight to the end.
Since Steve's death, Chris and I - with a ton of support from friends and the community - raised $10,000 and established a scholarship at Augusta State in his memory. The $500 per year is for students whose lives have been touched by cancer.
But hockey season is still a little hard. Just once, I'd like to look over and see Steve there - cheering on the Lynx, wearing that black cap and smiling.
Somewhere, I know he is.
* * *
While I'm on the subject of hockey games, The Lynx have to bring back the Evans High - or any other high school - dance team. Earlier this month, the Evans High School dance team took center ice and performed during the two intermissions.
Their performance was a welcome addition to the break between periods - which is too often filled with less-lively activities ranging from hawking new cars to seeing whether the Zamboni driver is going to have enough time to finish his passes. (Admittedly, the Zamboni song is great.)
Now, don't get me wrong, I love the Lynx, and have only missed three or four home games this year. But one of my on-going complaints is the lack of high-energy activities, especially during the first intermission. The second intermission is different: There's Chuck-a-Puck, the Chicken Dance YMCA and Cotton-Eyed Joe.
Oh yeah, there is one high-energy activity between both periods: dodging "death by T-shirts." The Lynx Launcher - an insurance company's worst nightmare - shoots T-shirts into the upper levels of the civic center. If you are in the lower levels, that means duct-tape wrapped cotton projectiles whizzing over your head.
Remember, guns don't kill people, but high-velocity T-shirts sure could.
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