Arena still feels like my home

As I sat in Kreitzberg Arena in Northfield, Vermont I chuckled to myself and thought about how much things can change in a four-year span.  It was just that long ago when the lights felt a little brighter shining down on the slightly slimmer high school version of myself.

As a member of the Northfield High School hockey team, our games were played on the same ice as Norwich University hockey, something I come to miss more and more each time I set foot in the building.

I’ve been a Castleton Spartan for four years now. I’ve been to countless sporting events, met new people, interviewed athletes and coaches alike and loved every second of it, but my time here has without a doubt challenged my fandom and loyalty in ways I previously thought were impossible.

Growing up in nearby Montpelier, I watched the Norwich Cadet men’s hockey teams of the early and mid 2000’s – teams that won national championships. As a Norwich fan, things were smooth sailing. The team was good and winning.

How good?

Good enough to have ESPN come to a rinky dink town with one traffic light in the middle of Vermont and help put Norwich hockey on the map.

But something changed. The winds shifted.

“Who are these new kids on the block fist pumping after goals in those green and white uniforms?” asked mystified NU fans.

It was Castleton. They were good. A rivalry was born.

Castleton quickly became known for their ‘Jersey Shore’ inspired goal celebrations. I hated them.

Fast forward to the present and I’ve been to more Castleton hockey games than Norwich in the past fours years. And while Castleton has dropped out of national prominence in men’s hockey, games between the two never disappoint.

The 10-year-old me would think I put Benedict Arnold to shame if he saw me right now.

As I sat in the stands at Kreitzberg with old high school friends watching our two colleges faceoff, I felt conflicted.

I felt like a visitor in my own home. For so long I had gone to that same place everyday, laced up my skates and jumped over those boards. It’s a place of comfort and familiarity. Even when the NU rink staff refused to turn on the arena lights for a morning practice leaving us skating in the dark for 45 minutes at 5:30 a.m., I was at home.

Now I found myself in the same place with the same teams, this time dressed in green and white, but still feeling still right at home.

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