A number of die-hard Thrashers fans have put their heads together, joined efforts and launched The Official Atlanta Thrashers Fan Club…a club, “founded by fans and will be run & operated by fans”. Among those at the heart of this fine endeavor are Lisa Lewis and Rose Mikalonis of The Thrashers 411, Sean Grace Garguilo of Blueland Roar & current Thrashers 7th Man Award winner, Stan Hauseman who is affiliated with the Recreational Adult Hockey League and Sally Cersosimo…who has also been honored with the 7th man award, (or would that be 7th “fan”).
Lisa has told me that the official launch of the fan club will be on June 26th during the NHL Entry Draft Party…however they are currently accepting members now. She’s very excited about the response and has been pleased with the number of supporters that have enrolled so far.
I asked her to tell me exactly what was behind the whole concept of The Official Atlanta Thrashers Fan Club. “The concept of starting a fan club back when the season first started”, Lewis replied, “Myself and Rose were talking about the new ‘Become One In Blueland’ slogan and at the time I had read all of the fans comments about the slogan having no meaning to them. One fan’s comment stood out out to me and it kept replaying in my head over and over… “How can we become one when we do not even feel like we are a part of the team?”"
And what would Lisa like to see happen as a result of the fan club?
“Our hockey club was one of the few in the league and the only one in the Southeast Division that did not have a fan club and as young as our franchise is, bringing the fan base together in a club that everyone can be a part of building seemed to be the right choice”, Lisa told me. “A fan club would bring together fans to be able to socialize and get to know each other and build a stronger bond. In turn, they would also be a part of the team and allowing a little more interaction withthe players, coaches and other Thrashers personnel. Bringing all of these aspects together would make not only the fans feel a stronger connection withthe team but [also allows the team] to build a stronger bond with their fans on a different level, hence ‘Becoming One In Blueland”".
And when did this idea move from “concept” phase to “action” phase?
“Several of us die hardstalked about getting something like this together to rally the fans to get behind the team and the fan club emerged. The huge road trip to Carolina was a real defining trip for many of us involved in forming the start up of the club. If 151 of us fans can drown out an opposing teams fans in their arena, imagine what Philips would sound like full of the home team fans all rallying behind the team. It would be intimidating and a force to be reckoned with. This fan club was started by fans and will be run and operated by the fans. Every member will have a voice in the club and their voice will be heard. All of us together as fans will build it. We want to see it grow strong into the hundreds. We also want it to be a club where every fan of any age will enjoy being a part of”.
She wrapped up her remarks by saying, “2009-2010 season marks the 10th anniversary of the franchise here and what better way to bring it in as fans? The team is getting stronger and we as fans are becoming stronger”.
In a recent interview with Ben Wright of the Blueland Blog, Sean Garguilo discussed some of his thoughts about the project he’s been so instrumental in getting off the ground.
“I’d like to see it grow to be hundreds of fans,” said Garguilo. ”The biggest thing to me is to help make Thrashers’ fans more of a force, and bring everyone together. The team should be good next year and that will make it a lot easier. It should help us strengthen the fan base and bring fans together. I like the idea of going on road trips. We’ve done that independently and it’s been fun. It’s nice to see 150 blue jerseys in another arena. I also like the idea of road game viewing parties. They’re great social events and they help fans get to know each other better”.
One possible spot is TJs on Holcomb Bridge Road, a perfect place for such viewing parties. Last season, Tim and Mark Ecclestone were nothing short of great when they worked with me to set up such outings and they have told me they would like to have us all back for more next season.
But there’s more to it than just meeting and hangin’ out with like-minded fans.
“There’s also a charity aspect to it”, Sean commented. “If we get to a reasonable size we should be able to do some good with it, whether it’s helping out the Atlanta Thrashers Foundation or the Dan Snyder Foundation.”
I wondered if the fan club intended to interact with the fan clubs of other NHL teams…especially with some of our southeast rivals…and Sean told me, “We have been interacting with other fan clubs while trying to get off the ground. We have spoken extensively to the Carolina booster club. They have been very helpful sharing their experiences and giving us suggestions”.
He continued, “I’d like to invite the local clubs to games at Philips, especially Carolina, Nashville, Tampa and Florida. Conversely, I’d like to work with our local government on a law that bans anyone wearing a Sabres jersey from being within a mile of Philips arena”.
A most excellent idea indeed.
So, if you’re looking to hang out and interact with fellow Thrashers fans and take your fanhood to a different level, The Official Atlanta Thrashers Fan Club would be worth looking into.