Susan Speaks: Some Cup-Inspired Thoughts


The cats woke me, as they’ve been doing lately, this morning at six. A sliver of sunshine was trying to sneak its way into my North-facing bedroom and I smiled.

Last night, my Penguins won the Stanley Cup. Pittsburgh became the first city whose sports teams won the Cup and the Super Bowl in the same sports year.

Now, regular readers around here, or those of you who know me via Facebook, know that the Tour Manager and I have been Penguin season ticket holders for years. Heck, I moved to the corn-and-soybean fields of NorthWest Ohio (I’m always West of things, it seems!). For two years, I existed on a steady diet of ice hockey while I earned my MFA in … ice hockey? The diploma says creative writing, but the experience was heavily weighted toward the ice.

I learned to play. To coach. I’d spend my Saturday nights at the ice arena, watching the Falcons (interestingly, I arrived the year after current head coach Dan Bylsma left). After the game ended, I’d take myself home and flip on my TV, settling with a manuscript in front of Hockey Night in Canada. (do NOT try telling me Don Cherry’s a jerk. You’ll only make me think you’re one, yourself.) The rest of the week, it was ESPN’s Hockey Night. Detroit’s Fox 50’s broadcast of Red Wings games. Whatever I could find. I wanted hockey.

I have been saying lately that after all that hockey, I moved back to Pittsburgh a fan of … all the Canadian sports teams. Not a fan of the Wings. I can’t tell you why.

Most likely, it’s a ‘Burgh thing, as we like to say. There’s a vibe this city has, one you feel as soon as you get here. Long gone are the smoky skies and bad air (unless those power plants West of us — see? West again — blow their badness our way). What’s here instead is a first-class city. Top-notch health care. Twenty-two colleges and universities. Amazing arts and leisure activities. Three rivers.

And champion sports teams.

Yeah, I know, the Pirates haven’t had a winning season since before the Pens won their first Cup. But this is Pittsburgh. We’re a hopeful bunch, always reaching for bigger and better. The Buccos will get there. The Pens returned. So did the Steelers.

Hell, so did I.

I left Pittsburgh, determined never to return, three times.

I came back, like some yo-yo, three times.

I’m glad I did. Not just because I’m now here to witness this amazing explosion of sports excellence. Not just because the Tour Manager was here, unbeknownst to either of us, waiting for me.

It’s because of that Blue Collar reputation the city’s got. People here work for what they want. They don’t wait for their dreams to come to them. They go out and make them happen. Like The Demo Tapes. Like the Penguins. Out of the playoffs last January, this dude who’d done his undergrad in NorthWest Ohio breezed in and turned things around. An entire city returned to a dream of Stanley Cups at the bottom of Mario’s pool.

There are promises that come with championships won. Promises of excellence, of an ether filled with dreams. One day, that’ll be me, we all think. Maybe it’s not our hands on the Stanley Cup that we’re dreaming of. Maybe it’s a book for sale in a bookstore. Maybe it’s to be able to live without pain. Maybe it’s something as simple and yet monumental as being able to find your strength and reach for a better life.

This is what it means to be from Pittsburgh. West of Mars is simply a location that’s part of Pittsburgh. Part of this legacy of the quest for greatness.

Pardon me now, please. I’ve got some dreaming to do.



  1. Florinda

    June 14, 2009 6:16 pm

    My son has never lived anywhere near Pittsburgh – the Finger Lakes region of New York state is as close as he’s gotten. But he’s a sports nut, including hockey, and he has been a Penguins fan, do or die, since he was about seven years old (he’ll be 25 next month). He’s having a VERY good weekend :-). Congrats to the Pens!

    Florinda’s last blog post..Weekend Review – travels across the blogiverse

  2. Anne

    June 14, 2009 9:39 pm

    My mom was born and bred in Pittsburgh so I spent a lot of time there growing up. I enjoyed it immensely and miss it now that so many of my relatives have passed away or moved away.

    Anne’s last blog post..Happy Birthday Libby!!

  3. Luanne

    June 14, 2009 9:44 pm

    Woohoo – a Don Cherry fan!! Although Hockey Night in Canada hasn’t been the same since the anthem changed…

    Luanne’s last blog post..Secrets to Happiness – Sarah Dunn

  4. Jannie Funster

    June 15, 2009 12:01 am

    Hey, Susan, will there ever be a chance for my beloved Maple Leafs again?? They’ve had my heart to 39 years now. I hope and pray each year…

    Jannie Funster’s last blog post..“Blame Tara Who?” Meme

  5. Julia Smith

    June 15, 2009 9:15 am

    What a great and passionate post, Susan. Although Sidney Crosby’s dream team growing up was Montreal, it suits him so much better to be playing for a team like Pittsburgh. Hailing from the bluest of blue collar provinces – except for Newfoundland – he is now in the city that expresses his roots and his world view. Take care of him for us!

    Julia Smith’s last blog post..Poetry Train Monday – 105 – Found Our Way Back

  6. Thomma Lyn

    June 15, 2009 10:38 pm

    What a powerful post. I love “an ether filled with dreams.”

    Thomma Lyn’s last blog post..Flowers on the Mountain

  7. Carol

    June 17, 2009 4:37 pm

    I loved the post.

    I actually live about 45 minutes from downtown Pittsburgh, in Ohio, but we still consider it our city, you know?

  8. Dawn - She is Too Fond of Books

    June 18, 2009 10:41 am

    I have to admit, when I saw the title of this post I thought you were musing about Bridget’s recent Facebook quiz results! 🙂

    Nothing wrong with average in that department!

    Dawn – She is Too Fond of Books’s last blog post..Spotlight on Bookstores: Rakestraw Books in Danville, California

  9. Celticlibrarian

    June 19, 2009 5:26 pm

    As promised, I cheered for your team. In a sports bar with a bunch of other cheering folks, no less.

    Way to go, Penguins!

    Celticlibrarian’s last blog post..13 World Records

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *