A couple weeks ago, I was on my way to shoot highlights at a high school football game. Just like any normal Friday night. I got an email from our station’s news director and it had a link that sent me to a White House website and told me I needed to register for credentials. Well, after doing a little digging, I found out that our news director wanted to send me and our sports anchor to Washington D.C. to cover the Pittsburgh Penguins visit to the White House.
My initial reaction was a reply email stating, “This is a sick joke, isn’t it?” I don’t know if my news director shares the same sense of humor as I do, but he definitely wasn’t joking, and he knew how much I despised the Penguins. So there I was, Sunday night at 11 PM, registering to visit the White House and watch a team that ever since I was a child, I loathed, celebrate a Stanley Cup victory that I was not very fond of. Awesome, right?
Tuesday morning, I show up at work to load up all of our gear and start making the trek down to the Nation’s capital. Everything is in the car, including myself and my co-worker, and we hit the road. We park about a block from 1600 Pennsylvania avenue, grab our gear out of our vehicle, and start walking over.
We arrive at the security gate, get checked in after being thoroughly checked up and down by the White House Security, including our gear, and then there we are, talking to Chaz, a writer for the Tribune in Pittsburgh. We decide that while we are just hanging out, admiring the beauty of the lawn and building itself, let’s shoot a Facebook live and let everyone know that we have arrived and will be going live later in our news casts.
That was the first time we got caught, on camera, doing something that we technically weren’t supposed to be doing. So after that, we hung around the press briefing building, you know, where Spicer used to do his thing. We met a few cool people, swapped great media stories, and by great, I mean mostly mediocre. Then it came time to set up all the cameras and tripods and all that fancy stuff us photographers get to work with.
This is actually the best time of the day, for me at least, because after setting up the camera, I could go and check out the Stanley Cup from only a few feet away, and get my picture taken with it. By “with it” I mean about 15 feet in front of it. Regardless, it was the closest and clearest shot I would be able to get all day because a few hours later, the East Wing of the White House was a cluster of fancy shmancy government people and other rich folks who still think it’s cool to just casually throw on a hockey sweater over a suit (this isn’t a Rangers game, you boujee buffoons.)
So after setting everything up, we go and check out the media room where press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders gave a briefing on another thing Trump said that upset some more people. Side note, she sounded conceited. Regardless, it was interesting to see how the network news stations ran these briefings. We sat there and joked with the CSPAN guy running the board for awhile, and were on our way when we found out the ceremony was about to begin.
So the second time we got caught doing something we weren’t supposed to do was on our way in to the White House. My colleague and I were walking in and he was taking a video of the walk inside. We were carrying on a little, nothing too much, and before we entered the room in which the Penguins were to be honored, a security guard snatched my co-worker, told him to delete the video, and waited until he did while carefully looking over his shoulder. I proceeded into the room and pretended not to know they guy in case we were getting put on a no-fly list. Hey, I’ve got a honeymoon to plan, I don’t have time to get all caught up in that stuff.
So we get in our spot and get ready for the events to begin, and as I’m standing there making sure the settings on my camera are set just the way they need to be, the Penguins are announced and enter the room. Soon, President Trump followed. It was glorious, it really was. To see a team be celebrated for their accomplishments, and especially after the injury riddled team the Penguins won the cup with, it truly was a spectacle.
After a few extremely lame attempts at jokes and a few ass-kissing jibes at Mario and Sid, Trump congratulated the team one more time and left the stage, soon followed by the Pittsburgh Penguins. That was it, we were done. Sort of.
The media group was met outside the press briefing building by head coach Mike Sullivan. Sullivan was bombarded by questions regarding the politics of this White House visit, but every question was met with a very political statement, reiterating his point about this not being about politics, and being about celebrating the achievements of his team. A few more questions and he was on his way back inside.
We put together what we needed to put together, teched our live shot, and we were on our way off the grounds, but not before snapping a few photos on the grounds, this time, not getting into trouble for it. We went back out the same gate we came in, grabbed some dinner, and were on our way back home in no time.
Now, I could sit here as a Flyers fan and tell you how much I despise the Penguins an how them being celebrated as the Stanley Cup champions really hit me hard right in the gut, but that would all be a bold faced lie. The truth of the matter is that one day, and good lord I hope it’s during my lifetime, the Philadelphia Flyers will be in that same room, with the same or different President, celebrating the same occasion that got the Penguins there the past two years.
I learned the sorrow of watching our biggest rival celebrate the greatest achievement in sports. It hurt. It hurt pretty bad. I was at game 6 when Patrick Kane ended the Stanley Cup Finals against the Flyers in 2010. I watched the faces full of utter disappointment flee from the ice as Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews and Antii Niemi threw their gear high in the air and embraced one another. I’ve experienced that letdown.
The thing about disappointment and letdown though, is that when you finally get a taste of that sweet, sweet success, it makes it that much better. If I ever get to experience a Flyers Stanley Cup win, it’ll taste sweeter than an ice cold beer after the longest day at work imaginable. I’ll hug complete strangers, I’ll scream until my voice is gone, I’ll even flee to the streets and rage long into the night, celebrating something that I have been waiting for since the day I was old enough to watch hockey, and that some have been waiting for for over 40 years.
The day that the Flyers bring the Cup back home to Philadelphia will be one of the greatest celebrations to ever grace the sporting world. The passion, the excitement, the good times that will be had. It’s going to be an absolutely epic time in Philadelphia, and I hope that I’ll be able to celebrate in this lifetime. Until then, I take this experience with me as a learning experience. I know what it’s like to see the rival win the Cup, now I’m ready for the good guys to win the cup.
Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY NETWORK