The first time I skipped class in high school, I snuck into my school theater to watch the Canada-Latvia quarterfinal hockey game during the 2014 Winter Olympics. This scenario sort of encapsulates who I am as a person.
I always joke about being a drama major at a revered arts school while also being that same school newspaper’s little-known sports editor. In high school I was an unapologetic theater kid. I spent my most important moments of high school in the theater, which is why I’m here today as a theater major.
But I also really love hockey.
My friends in theater always joked about sports, saying things like “Oh, Rachel — you’re so sports” on days when I’d walk into rehearsal wearing some amalgam of Vancouver Canucks and/or Team Canada merchandise.
To me, the crux of both sports and theater is quite the same — community. Throughout my years in theater, I have become part of a family, made stronger as we go through the highs and lows of putting on a full scale production together. We laugh, we cry, we paint sets, and we stay at school far later than we should to rehearse or just spend time together in the place we call home. As we all struggle to find our place in the world, eventually we theater kids realize that we are already standing right in it. Growing up with a weird family dynamic at home, the theater gave me what I sometimes felt I had missed out on. The theater bonds people. The theater brings people together.
But so do sports.
I cannot proclaim myself an athlete, despite a two-year tilt as my local softball team’s go-to sub-par second basemen. Similarly, my soccer career ended when they wouldn’t let me lay in front of the net while at goalie. I’m not an athletic person, but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate athletics. Because I do. I have cried over far too many hockey games at this point to say otherwise.
I am a lifelong sports fan. I lived in Vancouver as it hosted the Olympics and a year later I watched its most prized sports team — the Vancouver Canucks — make it to game seven of the Stanley Cup Final. I will never forget walking around downtown Vancouver in February of 2010, surrounded by a sea of red. Strangers asked strangers to update them on scores and high fives were offered to anyone who wanted one. I can remember exactly where I was when Sidney Crosby scored the golden goal to bring Canada Olympic gold in the sport it treasures most. Everyone around me erupted with joy. It was a special time.
Likewise, whenever I find myself away from home and I spot someone representing my team’s colors — be they the Canucks’ blue and green or Canada’s red — I feel like I’m seeing a member of my family. On freshman move-in day last year, I wore a Canucks t-shirt and some kid stopped me and asked “Are you from Vancouver?” I nodded and he responded “I’m from Toronto!” It was the wrong city, but the right country, and the right sport is what united us for that brief moment in time.
All of this is to say that, sure, on the surface, athletes and thespians sometimes seem like different species. But as a theater and sports lover, I know that it’s not the medium that matters, it’s the family that forms around it.
Email Rachel Ruecker at [email protected]