Imprisoned within the beige confines of my hospital room, with an obstructed view of the Rocky Mountains, my schedule revolved around morning rounds, medications, blood draws — and most importantly, Colorado sports. As a Colorado native, I found watching Colorado’s sports teams fueled my competitive nature and my battle to survive, and provided much-needed comfort and distraction from the reality of my mortality.
Only seven months prior, my introduction to motherhood was painted with the bold blue and maroon colors of the Colorado Avalanche’s quest for, and acquisition of, the Stanley Cup. Diagnosed with a rare, life-threatening disorder in October of 2022, I have sweet recollections of my sleep deprived early days of motherhood being surrounded by low-volume playoff hockey, silent mimed cheers as the Avs took home the cup, and a sleeping infant tucked cozily in my arms. As an avid hockey fan, I felt as if the world, the world I grew up in and loved, was welcoming and celebrating the arrival of my son through a moment I’d been waiting over 20 years for.
The blue, white, and maroon confetti that littered the sticky summer streets of Denver following the parade celebration seemed worlds away from the situation I found myself in only months later. Separated from the outside world, stuck in a hospital bed, prevented from seeing my son, I sought familiar comforts, like those distant memories and the teams I loved.
As I was hospitalized throughout the fall and winter months, amongst my daily medications and treatments I looked forward to watching the Broncos, Nuggets, and Avalanche. Aside from video calls with my son or visits with family members, games were often the highlight of my hospital existence. Often alone, eating cafeteria food, participating in game day offered me a window and connection to the outside world, the people I loved, and the city I called home.
It didn’t matter if my teams won or lost, and it still doesn’t. The most important part was the sense of normalcy I gained watching the teams I grew up with, the teams which held so many personal memories. For me, it wasn’t just another game, just football, just basketball, or just hockey; it was a welcome connection to my past, my present — and, I hoped, my future.
Watching these teams allowed conversation with my family, nursing staff, and doctors. Watching these teams reminded me of the countless hours I’d spent watching them over the years, failing and succeeding, all surrounded by loving family members. From childhood to adulthood I can picture myself adorned in blue and orange, blue and maroon, or blue and gold, seated beside family and friends as we spent our days or evenings cheering for our beloved teams. Though I have no recollection of this moment, supposedly I welcomed the Rockies to Colorado at mere months old and continued to attend spring games with my dad, welcoming a special occasion to miss school.
As a child, my love of these teams revolved around the mascots and snacks. I never could pass up the warm twisted dough of a Coors Field tornado. As I grew, I came to truly love the sports I’d simply been brought along to watch. I admired the athleticism, the competition, and the perseverance of the athletes — but most importantly I came to love the fans, gathered and united together in their love of the game and their city. Overall, watching these teams was a reprieve from my current reality, reminding me of better days, better days I hoped would one day return.
The power of Colorado sports teams goes beyond wins and losses; they have the power to create lasting memories, foster connections with people and the state we call home, and provide a much needed outlet for those in need.
Seven months after immunosuppressive therapy, almost one year after the Colorado Avalanche took home the cup, I am on the road to recovery, hoping I can see the Nuggets take home an NBA Championship. Watching Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, Michael Porter, Jr., Aaron Gordon, and the rest of the team dominate their series, I am reminded of all the years I attended games, the good seasons and the bad. Poor college students, my husband and I often were able to attend Nuggets games, taking tickets no one else wanted, sharing a big bowl of popcorn, and enjoying a courtside date night.
Even if the Denver Nuggets fail to win the Finals, I will be left with my fond memories, forever thankful I was home for the playoff season, seated beside my husband, munching homemade popcorn, and enthusiastically rooting for our favorite basketball team, simultaneously cheering for our city and the state we were both born in. At the end of the day, it’s not about the wins and losses, it’s about the memories!
Meghin Kiernan lives in Wheat Ridge.
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