Jake Gittler: Life as The Ultimate Rangers Fan
Moments after the winning announcement. (Photo: BlueshirtsUnited.com)
FullTilt Rangers was started by a fan for the fans. That was the concept I had when I got this labor of love off the ground. It’s been almost 2 years since we began and what a journey it has been so far. With that, it gives me great pleasure to introduce our newest member to the FullTilt Family, Jake Gittler: The Ultimate Rangers Fan. Below is Jake’s 1st contribution of many. It’s a special one, it’s HIS story.
Anthony Scultore, CEO
Just what does it mean to be the Ultimate Rangers Fan? Well, let me tell you.
On April 7th, 2012, during an on ice ceremony at the world’s most famous arena, Madison Square Garden, I, Jake Gittler, was crowned the “Ultimate Rangers Fan.”
Through the years for as long as I can remember, I’ve celebrated and cried through the ups and downs of being a Rangers fan. When Michal Roszival scored in double overtime against the Sabres during the 2007 playoffs I paraded through my neighborhood singing the goal song at the top of my lungs. And just days later when Chris Drury scored with 7.7 seconds remaining in game 5 back in Buffalo to force Overtime, in a flash of white rage that no 15 year old would be able to control, I broke the remote to my TV.
So it was only natural that upon seeing the heavily advertised Ultimate Fan Contest during the winter of 2012, I submitted a video, and 10 weeks later, I won.
On paper, all I had won was Season Tickets to the following season (Yes that did indeed turn out to be the lockout shortened season…), but in reality, I won not just tickets, but a wealth of life changing experiences that many fans could only dream of.
Just a few short weeks after winning the contest, the Rangers found themselves down 3-2 in the best-of-7 first round series against the Ottawa Senators in the 2012 playoffs. It was then when I was contacted by the “Blueshirt Buzz” crew from Blueshirtsunited.com.
For those unfamiliar, the Blueshirt Buzz (now the “Blueshirt Buds” thanks to a change in sponsorship) is a fan-based web series for the New York Rangers website. I was told that if I could make it to Ottawa on very short notice in time for game 6, I could go to the game for free. The catch? I had to shave my head in hopes that shaving my long flowing locks would change the Rangers misfortunes in the series.
I agreed, drove to Ottawa, shaved my head, and the rest is history…
The Ottawa Head Shave
The Rangers went on to win the series, and wound up making it to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in 18 years, and I was right there alongside the team. I was officially a member of the Blueshirt Buzz. I was officially the Ultimate Fan.
I had the privilege of watching many playoff games at the Garden, while also traveling to Ottawa, Washington, and New Jersey during the 2012 run, seeing some of the most intense, thrilling hockey games one could ever watch, while also seeing behind the scenes of an NHL organization.
It was heaven.
Then the lockout hit, but when it finally came to an end in January 2013, the Buzz crew was resurrected.
After getting a call from the host of the Blueshirt Buzz, Mike Pullano, just days before opening night at Boston’s TD Garden, I packed my bags and headed to Beantown.
Hockey was back. The Rangers were back. The Buzz was back. The Ultimate Fan was back!
While I had my own personal tickets as winnings from the contest the previous year, I also worked alongside the “Buzz Crew” throughout the regular season and the playoffs, although as we all know the 2013 run was not as long lived as 2012…
Not much changed for me as we ventured into the 2013-2014 season. I went to games, I laughed, I cried, and all the while our beloved Rangers came oh so close to the Ultimate dream, but alas we came up short.
What’s next for me, the Ultimate Fan? Well, nobody really knows, myself included, but what I can say for sure, is that never in a million years could I have predicted what was in store for me during this dream ride.
In March 2012, I was like so many other diehards and would watch games religiously from the couch and every so often I’d find the monetary means to head into the city to catch a game in person. Now I’ve seen it all.
I’ve hung out with Adam Graves, I’ve witnessed playoff Overtime winners, I’ve seen crushing playoff defeats, I’ve traveled to different cities to watch games, and I’ve even traveled to Canada (a place all hockey fans should visit) to watch the Rangers play.
So what does it truly mean to be the “Ultimate Rangers Fan?” It means to care beyond words about the team we love. It means to rise and fall as the team does. It means that even during the lowest of ruts that the team may go through, you will always stand by the New York Rangers.
In one word: Loyalty.
Through all my experiences, all I can do is smile, still shake my head in disbelief at the opportunities I’ve been given, and hope that next year is the year for our Blueshirts…