As we move into the final third of the continuing dire straits that has been much of 2020, there are s few positives. Silver linings among the dark clouds. This past week, we got some good from the “Other Side of the Glass”. New Whale GM Amy Scheer got right to work and added two key front office pieces in Juliana Nikac and Amanda Zanghi. Amy told us “Amanda is going to focus on revenue for us, really the day to day of bringing in sponsors. And once we understand from a Covid perspective what we can do in terms of ticket sales, she’ll focus on ticket sales as well. Juliana Nikac will oversee our social and digital media for the club. So two great young professionals who will add a lot to the team this year! I couldn’t be more excited than to be working with these two young ladies. it’s going to be a fun year and they are going to contribute at a high-level for sure. They are both professionals and are very good at their job,” Exciting news for the Most Exciting Team in Hockey, as well!
As you know, we have been sharing input from several of the fans that make up Cetacean Nation, and will continue to do so. Both in our “Other Side of the Glass Series” here in various editions of Whale’s Tales, and then on our website in our “Not A Whale But… interviews. In the latest edition, our input comes from Tom LaRocca (@tomlarock27) who told us about the Whale and the NWHL are important to him. We loved his responses and think you will too. He began
“The NWHL is important to me because it allows me and my girlfriend to grow closer. It’s a bond we share, something in which she introduced me to at the start of our relationship and I instantly took an interest in. I’ve had so much fun at the games whether it was a regular season game rooting for the Pod or the All-Star Weekend in Boston this year. I think it’s also important to me because it really opened my eyes as to how skilled these players really are. Watching them play in person is a whole different experience. The fan interactions are also a huge part of my interest. I have never attended a hockey game and met the players after, so to be able to do that after every game always makes my day. I always ask my girlfriend if we can stay after to say hello.”
“I think the NWHL is important in general because it gives women a platform to play a sport they love. Sports are meant to be inclusive and allow everyone the same chance to play, gain exposure and garner fans. Having a league like the NWHL does so much for women in sports, especially young girls who want to play hockey at the professional level. I hope to one day have a daughter and for her to be interested in hockey and know that there is a platform like the NWHL where she can play."
“What makes the Whale so important is that it brings hockey back to Connecticut and does an amazing job of showcasing talent. I think our players also make the Pod so special. Players like Doyle, Brickner, Orlando and so many others who just have passion for the game and the team. That type of energy on the Whale really is something so special and makes the team really stand out among the others.”
We also asked Tom about how he originally got interested in hockey. He explained
“I first got interested in hockey at a young age, probably 5 or 6. I always loved sports but I just took extra interest in hockey for some reason. I’m a huge fan of the New York Rangers but just love the game of hockey so much that I enjoy watching most teams and all sorts of leagues. I did play hockey, played for 8 seasons in a dek hockey league. I only just learned how to skate this past year with the help of my girlfriend. I always wanted to learn how to and she showed me, which was so fun. I definitely enjoy playing any chance I get which as of lately, isn’t too much because of the pandemic. Growing up and now, I’m also a big baseball fan and really enjoy watching and playing that sport as well. Love my New York Mets!”
He added “What I’m most excited for this season is the Whale. The roster is stacked and we’re riding off some good energy from last season. I’m super excited to see The 6 in action too. I’m glad the league expanded and I think they’ll do super well up there. I’m hoping fans will be allowed to attend this year, but will understand if they aren’t due to the pandemic, I’d love to get back to some games.”
When we asked about Tom’s favorite NWHL moment, he to,d us
"My favorite NWHL memory probably is meeting Anya Packer. We drove to ProSkate in NJ to watch the Whale take on the Rivs. I knew Anya was gonna be there so the whole drive down I’m nervous. We finally get there and I’m looking around nervously. Finally, second period rolls around and I stand up (sporting a season 1 Anya jersey) and she sees it and waves frantically. So now I’m waving frantically and I’m like we need to go and say hello. We head up to the broadcast booth and she gives me a big hug. She is such a kind person and so fun to talk to. She was happy to take a photo with me and sign a puck to add to my collection. We ended up speaking after the game for almost an hour and I was so happy that she took the time to talk to us. I mean that’s definitely one of my favorite memories but I have so many more, between meeting the players after the first Whale game we attended, meeting Sam Faber at LIU and attending the All-Star weekend in Boston.”
These experiences and feelings that Tom has are awesome, but here’s the thing. In this league, with this team, you can build a memory bank as full as Tom’s. The other fans in Cetacean Nation already know this, the players love enabling this, and now here’s a perfect outline for any new fan wondering if they should give the NWHL and the Whale a tumble. Short answer: absolutely! Longer answer: See above. Final answer: Do it and pay it forward, and let us share your story too! Fins Up to that idea, and to the great content from Tom. See you around the rink!