Story Behind the Picture: "Sit Down" Hank
When you walk into the Veterans Memorial Arena on a Sharks game day, you always find someone you recognize. That person may be the security guard in your section, the people who sit around you, or one of the away team players who used to play for the Sharks. Along with the home team, everyone in the arena knows the guy who can't seem to sit down along the sideline, no matter how good or bad the game is going for the Sharks. This guy always has on a Terrance Smith jersey. This guy always wears these black and red gloves. This guy is Hank, and everyone, whether they know his name or not, knows who "Sit Down" Hank is.
During pregame warm-ups, Hank is standing. When the team goes out for introductions, Hank is standing. During half time, Hank is standing (in line getting a drink). When the game is at the one minute warning, you better believe Hank is standing. And when the final buzzer sounds and the score has been announced, Hank is still standing.
So what's so special about this person? A ton of people who watch football games stand. The thing that makes Hank a little bit different is his relationships with people. On multiple occasions, Hank has been told by the security in his section that he needs to "sit down, because people behind him can't see." People who order tickets behind him are warned that there is a man who stands during the whole game. So the people around him now have grown to love the fact that Hank loves the team so much that he is willing to stand throughout what could become a four hour game, in which the Sharks lose.
Not only does Hank have a relationship with the people he is around, he has made himself known to the staff and interns of the Sharks. These staff members often make special trips to go over and talk to Hank. When Hank isn't at a game, or doesn't stay for the whole game (which doesn't happen to often) it doesn't go unnoticed.
Players from the Jacksonville team also make trips over to see the man who stands on the wall. These players love all of the fans of the team, but if you watch the way they interact with Hank, there is something much deeper in that relationship. This turns from a fan-player relationship, to a friend relationship. Out of all the players on the team though, Terrance Smith is obviously one of Hank's favorites. The jersey he wears to every game is Smith's. The gloves he wears to catch footballs that might fly up into the stand are Smith's. There aren't many fans of any sport who can say I have my favorite player's game worn gloves. (I can't even say that, but my favorite player doesn't wear gloves.)
Though Hank seems to be loved by all, there are people who don't approve of him standing up the whole game, which has caused controversy. This was eventually settled by Sharks team management saying Hank pays for those seats and he can do what he wants in them, whether that be sit or stand.
One of the best moments I've witnessed from Hank, was on the way to Orlando, when the Sharks played the Predators in 2012. The Sharks sold seats on a bus and took fans to the game. At the time I worked for the Sharks, and was working with my co-worker to chaperone what was a great trip. The local news station also went on the bus to interview fans who were riding, and make a highlight real of the game. During one of the interviews on the bus with my co-worker, Josh, Hank decided it was a good idea to go in for a kiss on camera.
Hank is just one of those fans, you want to be around. He's always got a smile on his face, and he's always looking out for the best of the team, even if he can't directly change something.
So here's to you Hank! Thanks for being such an awesome fan of the Sharks and an even better person.