I sit here in Charlotte a week after the Islanders were swept and I can’t stop thinking about the amazing season we had as fans. I had no intention of writing this post and I am going to keep it short, but if I didn’t thank some people that really helped our groups grow, I would feel terrible.
The first person I need to thank is Devin of Yesmenoutfitters! Believe it or not, Devin was actually a stranger a year ago and has now become one of my best friends. He was a part of the #islesmeetups expansion from the very beginning and has helped us take these groups to levels I would have never imagined possible. Before the season started we had many long conversations about our visions and what we wanted to accomplish. It only makes sense that we started and ended the season together down in Raleigh, NC. I can’t wait to do it all again next season with you every step of the way. We go together like lamb and tuna fish! It might sound terrible, but I talk to him more than I talk to my own mother…Happy Mother’s Day Mom <3
Another reason we had so much success this year was the podcasts that helped us get the word out throughout the season. Islanders fans are extremely lucky to have such high quality podcasts that put out content on a weekly basis. The national media might not give us the coverage we deserve, but honestly who cares when these podcasts do a better job than they ever could! Thanks for everything Isle Seat Podcast, Eyes on Isles, Hockey Night in New York, and The Isles Faithful Podcast!
I also want to thank the local companies back in New York that supported us and helped us bring a little bit of NY all over the country! This season you saw an amazing marriage between certain entities that made it one of the most memorable ones in my lifetime. Not only are Islanders fans some of the most passionate fans, but they are also really skilled at their crafts. Thanks Oyster Bay Brewing, Offside Tavern, Joe Maracic, Sean Connors, and Donald Rosner for being a huge part of the #islesmeetups family!
One man brought us all together and let us share our stories and that man is Jay Nelson of MSG Networks. Jay took time out of his busy life to fly down to Charlotte and hang in our sweaty bar during the middle of the season. He was able to capture what makes the Charlotte group so special and I will forever be in debt to him for that. Most networks would have looked past us because we are out of the state, but Jay saw what was at the core of the group and that is the people who show up and cheer on their team hundreds of miles away!
Not only did #islesmeetups get covered by our TV network, we also got some press from Newsday and the New York Islanders! At the start of the season Cory Wright stood out in the blistering heat to conduct an interview with me at our season opener tailgate all while wearing a full suit. At that time we only had the Long Island, DC, Tampa and Philly groups and had no idea what this thing would become. Also a huge shoutout to Rachel Schwartz, manager of digital media for the Islanders, who has been great to us since day 1 – and congratulations on your engagement! During the post-season, Joe Manniello of Newsday worked for weeks putting together a piece that let all the different meetup groups share their experiences and their stories. It was a finely written piece that will be hanging in my “man cave” for years to come.
However, the real validation came when Jon Ledecky invited us to New York and hosted us out to a game back in December. I want to scream at the top of every building in New York that WE HAVE AN OWNER THAT GETS IT!!! He doesn’t have to do what he does, but to change the culture of an organization it needs to start at the top, and because of him leading by example, the culture of the fanbase changed as well! The icing on the cake? He came by during our Game 4 tailgate in Raleigh. All of you back in New York know how special he is, so it was nice for us down in the Carolinas to experience it.
And to tie the whole season together I need to thank Brittney Greiss for working with the Charlotte group all season! We helped raise thousands of dollars for the campers at Fort Bragg and it feels amazing to help out kids in our community so they can have the opportunity to play the game we all love. For this group to be able to make an impact like that makes everything I do for #islesmeetups worth it.
On a personal note I need to thank all my Charlotte members. Without you beautiful people showing up to all our events I would have stopped doing this years ago. I keep pushing myself to make this thing bigger and better because you deserve it! I already miss all of you and I think we should head out to a Charlotte Knights game together as an excuse to hangout! And HOLY CRAP GUYS…you almost brought this bearded man to tears with the beautiful Richard Park jersey you chipped in to get me! Frank you are a sneaky man!
I can’t wait to do it all again next season and to work closely with all the fine ladies and gentlemen that run #islesmeetups all across the country! Dare me to get 500 tickets for the first Islanders game in Raleigh?