Realizing a Lifelong Dream at the Stanley Cup

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Reporter Rob Schmitz saw his childhood dream come true when he got to cover the Stanley Cup finals last week.

JOHN YDSTIE, host:

This week the Anaheim Ducks won hockey's Stanley Cup. We sent KQED reporter Rob Schmitz to cover the final game. Little did we know that Rob is from small-town Minnesota where every kid had a hockey stick and a dream.

Here's his Reporter's Notebook.

ROB SCHMITZ: I grew up on a lake. I remember racing down the hill to its frozen shores after school each day with the neighborhood boys and my little brothers, Ryan and Danny, steam puffing from our mouths, lacing up our skates and clearing snow from our homemade rink, revealing thick block ice.

Within minutes, we had formed teams and agreed to the terms. The first team to 10 wins the Stanley Cup. A frigid, tense silence would settle over the lonely snow-covered lake as we lined up for the face-off, mulling over what was at stake. This was it. There was no going back.

The puck was dropped, sticks flew and our imaginations provided the soundtrack.

(Soundbite of crowd cheering)

SCHMITZ: Well, when I was a kid it was actually much louder than this. But on Wednesday night, I came about as close as I ever will to those frozen childhood afternoons. I had the incredible luck of covering the Stanley Cup finals in Anaheim.

(Soundbite of Stanley Cup finals)

Unidentified Group: Let's go, Ducks.

SCHMITZ: With six minutes to go in the third period, it was apparent that the Ducks would win the game. I was walking back to the pressroom underneath the arena when I saw it. Three uniformed NHL officials wearing white gloves were pushing a 4-foot tall blue box on wheels through the narrow hall towards me.

They stopped while I gazed at it. I might have been drooling. I started to ask, is that? One of them nodded, yes, sir. That's the Cup. Whoa. The Stanley Cup - the Holy Grail I had imagined lifting over my head in victory throughout my childhood. Someone finally told me to get out of the way. The only thing I thought to do was to turn on my recorder.

(Soundbite of men conversing)

SCHMITZ: I must have looked like an idiot stalking this box with a microphone, but the NHL guys weren't fazed. The thing is I had the chance to touch the box, but I didn't. It was just too sacred, plus I had already won it dozens of times on my hometown lake. And now it was time to let the Anaheim Ducks touch it. I went upstairs to soak in the pandemonium.

(Soundbite of crowd cheering)

SCHMITZ: On center ice, the Ducks were taking turns hoisting The Cup above their heads. For a moment, I stopped seeing them as pro hockey players. They were a bunch of gleeful, giddy boys who had just turned imagination into reality.

YDSTIE: NPR's Rob Schmitz.

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