Raw emotion is something we see a lot of in sports. Whether it follows a tough loss, retirement, or winning the ultimate prize. Last night was no exception. The Washington Capitals downed the Vegas Golden Knights four games to one in the Stanley Cup finals, and we saw everything from tears, laughter, yelling, hugs, and yes, even some boobs (thank you, white dress lady). Alex Ovechkin finally got the monkey off his back, after years of waiting, and disappointment, he is finally a Stanley Cup Champion. But, the thing that has a lot of people talking, and crying, is a specific post-game interview with Caps forward, TJ Oshie. Oshie is famous for his 2014 shootout magic against Russia in the Sochi Olympics, and was acquired by Washington in a trade with St. Louis before the 2015/16 season. He’s been a good player for most of his career, and really showed out in the playoffs this year, with his physical play, and dazzling puck skills. After the game, with a smile that could illuminate the arena, TJ was asked how he was feeling, and what this meant to him, his response ripped the heart out of hockey fans across America.
We all have that support system in our lives, whether its mom, dad, aunt, uncle, brother, sister, anyone who believes in you and pushes you to be better than the day before. For Oshie, it’s his father, Tim. Tim Oshie has Alzheimers, and according to TJ he doesn’t remember much. “You can bet your ass he’ll remember this” he told reporters through teary eyes, “I don’t think any disease is gonna take this one away from him.” That’s the one that got to me. See, Oshie reminded myself, and many others like me, that no matter what we go through, what happens to loved ones, when we succeed, they succeed. He showed the world, as he lifted the cup with his dad on the ice last night, that your happiness is their happiness.
Yes, I’m thrilled for Ovi, Niklas Backstrom, Braden Holtby, and all the Capitals for their victory last night. It will truly last a lifetime. Every playoff run has a defining moment, and theirs had plenty. It’s just nice to see athletes larger than life, humanize themselves after a grueling season like this, and to watch a grown man reduced to tears because he made his father proud. We’ve all experienced that in some way. Maybe it hasn’t brought a tear to your eye, but instead butterflies in your gut, or a numbness in your throat, the overwhelming sense of pride that extends beyond yourself, into the lives of everyone who’s had your back along the way. I lost my grandfather a couple years back, as most of my readers are aware, and my writing career took off after I published a letter to him when things took a turn for the worse. He was a war hero, father, brother, and grandfather, and without hesitation, he was on the sideline or in the stands for just about every sporting event of mine, my brother, and sister. His undeniable love for all that was his grandkids lives is something I wasn’t able to appreciate until he was already gone. But my own father, mother, siblings, fiancée, and everyone around us have continued to be everything I need to move forward. So please, thank them. Love them unconditionally, and know that they’re proud of you. You may not realize how much your success means to them, and how their happiness hangs in the balance when you’re going through hell, they’re right there with you. As for TJ, it can’t be easy to share that with the world in that setting, but what he was feeling was real, and if you haven’t yet, I pray you feel that for yourself one day.
For myself; Stephanie, mom and dad, Keegan and Molly, my grandparents, in-laws, J, and all my friends and family, thank you, for everything.