The dictionary might describe family as those people we are connected to through “a common ancestry,” or in laymen’s terms, by blood. However, I think family extends beyond the veins that run under our skin. I think family can be described as the people who, by simply being in their presence, make us feel like we’re…home.
The Los Angeles Kings organization, their fans and the community we share together are what I consider my home.
I tried out for the LA Kings Ice Crew in June 2014 at 24 years old with absolutely no skating experience other than the handful of times my parents took me during the holidays. I honestly went into it (with wobbly legs and all) thinking I probably wouldn’t make it. However, I was upholding a promise I had made to my uncle, David Courtney, before he passed away a few years earlier (he was the Public Address Announcer for the Kings for many, many years).
He swore to me up and down that if I tried out and made it, the LA Kings Ice Crew would be something I always remembered. But most importantly, he promised me I’d find a family within the company.
Well, after two years of being a part of the Crew, guess what? He was wrong.
It hasn’t just been an experience to remember—it’s been the experience of a lifetime. And this Kings organization hasn’t become just a family…It’s become home.
You see, the Kings program extends beyond just hockey. It’s more than just game days or playoffs or even the Stanley Cup. It’s more than just an organization; it’s a community—an entire society full of mentors, movers and shakers. It’s a place where you can find a helping hand, a bellyaching laugh, a friend and even someone who might change your outlook on life. It’s a place where you can find someone to always cheer you on.
When you hear the LA Kings have the best fans in sports, that’s truly not an exaggeration. I’ve met some of the coolest people who have continued to support me time and time again, even on my endeavors outside of the Kings organization. These fans want to see me succeed and have encouraged me to do so day in and day out. Through thoughtful notes on social media or high-fives in the Staples Center concourse, they always know how to put a smile on my face, and they never fail to remind me just how lucky I am to be a part of a team—no, a family—that’s loved so much.
In fact, that feeling of love extends beyond just the fans—it extends throughout the Los Angeles community as a whole. Being a part of the Ice Crew allows you to work hand-in-hand with the Kings Care Foundation, which is an umbrella foundation that helps raise funds for tons of different charities throughout LA. I’ll never forget a moment last summer: I was working with the Ice Crew at the opening of a new mess hall that the Kings organization had built at Camp Ronald McDonald—a camp designed to help children with cancer, their siblings and their parents enjoy the outdoors while coping.
After we finally cut the ribbon and watched the kids and their families pile in, mouths agape with awe as they looked around their new facility, I couldn’t help but get teary eyed. In that moment I realized this organization is truly changing lives. It made these kids a part of our family, adding just a little extra love and support to their experience at camp—a reminder that they’re not alone…The Kings are home.
This is just one of many incredible moments I shared as a member of the LA Kings Ice Crew. From shooting a bikini calendar to taking part in banner raising ceremonies, kissing Lord Stanley to skating on Staples Center ice, this organization allowed me to experience once-in-a-lifetime opportunities and provided me with memories that will last forever. More than that, though, I made these memories with some seriously kick-ass people.
I can honestly say I’ve met friends through the Ice Crew who will be by my side at my wedding—heck, even in my wedding (which is a long ways away, as any of them can assure you). People who will eventually meet my first child, and people who will stand by my side through all of life’s twists and turns.
In fact, they already have.
They wiped my tears after I broke up with my boyfriend of four years and made sure I always had weekend plans as to never feel entirely alone. They picked me up when I went through some tough times with my family, and they made me smile on even the most difficult of days. I rang in 2016 with them on a night that will go down in history as one of my favorite stories ever. I’ve spent umpteen hours on the phone with them talking about hockey and boys and family and career moves and life. I’ve watched one overcome a divorce while another found new love. We’ve given advice to each other on anything ranging from new cars (go with the white!) to new jobs, hair color to nail polish color to resumes and roommates. I’ve held their hands and laughed until I cried. I’ve traveled with them to different cities and discovered new adventures right here in LA (middle-of-the-night Justin Bieber concert anyone?).
But best of all, I learned what it means to work with a group of people who I truly love and form lifelong friendships and memories I’ll always cherish.
So why exactly am I pouring out my cheeseball of a heart and telling you all of this? Because come the end of June, you have the opportunity to experience these moments, too.
The LA Kings Ice Crew is holding tryouts on June 25 and 26, and I want to encourage any of you—people with a passion for the Kings, a love for sports in general or simply a desire to meet new friends—to come a take part in the exciting weekend. Stop worrying about your ice skating skills, don’t fret any competition (just be you!), and by all means don’t be nervous about not fitting in.
Whether you make the Ice Crew or not, the LA Kings is a home for everyone. The dictionary may not define it, but I can assure you, we all shed the same blood (in shades of Forum blue and gold). We are all family… WE ARE ALL KINGS.
PS: Stop second guessing and RSVP for tryouts right now, right here.