Ice Magic – a brave spirit that unites a community
Sunday, April 2, 2017 - Submitted by Mitchell Mann
There’s a special kind of magic that sees first time visitors to a Brave game instantly converted to die-hard fans. Here we take a look at what it means to be Brave.
The deafening roar dies down until you can almost hear a pin drop. The seconds on the clock close in on zero. All eyes are focused on the CBR Brave as they push towards the goals. For a split second, time stands still as everyone holds their breath. The puck hits the back of the net and the moment is broken by a chorus of cheers.
One woman has tears streaming down her face. Two huge men embrace. Kids alongside the infamous Brave Cave ‘chicken wire’ are jumping and screaming in joy. It’s moments like this that create an incredible bond between fans and players. But it seems that the magic on the ice goes way beyond being rink side. Four of our fans tell us what it is for them that makes them keep coming back game after game.
‘Groovin Grandma’ Robyn Kemp and husband David are well known to Brave fans. Having not missed a home or away game for the past two seasons, David’s stirring call greets the team whenever they hit the ice. For Robyn, the Brave has quickly grown to become a winter obsession. She says being part of the ‘Brave family’ has exceeded all of her expectations.
"To be Brave is a far greater thing than we could ever have dreamed possible before hockey."
Being Brave means more to some than just the thrill of the sport. Many fans channel their passion into the motivation they need to push themselves harder, to strive for greater things or to otherwise embody what it means to be Brave. Others point to a spirit that has helped them overcome some of life’s biggest challenges.
Angela Braniff never thought she’d find herself sitting rinkside most weekends. But now she couldn’t imagine spending a winter without having the Brave to look forward to. In fact, she believes that the spirit that embodies the team helped her get through her cancer treatment.
“Being Brave and feeling brave helped me enormously through my tough cancer treatment. I wore my ‘We the Brave’ shirt to all my gym sessions”
“The noise for our team, sitting amongst family and friends and fast and furious fun are a potent combination!”
For 16 year old Taylah Abbott, hockey has played a defining role in her childhood. As a 13 year old she was devastated when she found out her beloved Canberra Knights had folded.
“In 2014, my world was shattered when I heard that the team was folding. But within just a few days a whole heap of dedicated people managed to create what is now known as the CBR Brave. And I will be forever grateful!”
It was the hard work and dedication of these people and the support of the broader AIHL fan base that paved the way for a team to re-enter the league, and the continued support from each and every fan still ignites the fire in our boys to give their all both on the ice and off it.
Taylah’s Mum Annie believes that it was a defining moment for the team and has helped to create an unbreakable bond that grows stronger every year.
“We screamed and cried tears of joy when the CBR Brave were officially accepted into the AIHL and together we have stood with THE Proudest Brave family at 3 AIHL finals in Melbourne!”
“Through the Brave community, we have met lifelong friends; warm, wonderful, unique and colourful people, each with their own story and place within this one fabulous CBR Brave family”
Taylah says that the spirit that unites those around the team runs deep.
“The back of my jersey says #1 Fan and in my heart that's how I feel, but I know there are so many other #1 fans in CBR Brave family!”
While the story of the Brave is still in its relative infancy, there is and always will be more to be done. Following a devastating grand final loss in 2016, a new season brings with it a sense of unfinished business. A fire burns deeper and hotter than ever before. And each player that pulls on a CBR Brave jersey does so not only for the men they share the ice with, but also for each and every member of the ‘family’ supporting them. While the team delivers action on the ice, it seems it’s the fans that deliver a certain kind of magic on the other side of the boards. And it’s that magic that has become such a central part of the Brave machine. It makes the boys push harder, skate faster and give it their all for the cause.
But it’s not just games that get the blood pumping. Robyn says the anticipation leading up to the start of the season is just as exciting.
“The build-up to that first game day when the ‘Brave family’ is once again united from far and wide is so exciting.”
With just weeks until the puck drops on season 2017, it seems that the anticipation is stronger than ever.