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Why I’m a Flyers fan: Steph gets sappy

Florida Panthers v Carolina Hurricanes Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

To celebrate the new look and feel of our SB Nation communities, we’re sharing stories of how and why we became fans of our favorite teams. If you’d like to do the same, head over to the FanPosts to begin. Each FanPost will be entered into a drawing to win a $500 Fanatics gift card [contest rules]. We’re collecting all of the stories here and featuring the best ones from around our network. Come Fan With Us!

I'm Steph Driver, executive producer and co-host of BSH Radio. I don't have a particularly intriguing story about how I became a Flyers fan.

I grew up in a farm town in North Jersey surrounded by New York fans, I've even met a Devils fan or two. My brother was the only one in my family to play sports, and it wasn't at a highly competitive level. No sports match was ever on the TV, ever. There was no Thanksgiving tradition of putting football on and watching as a family. This is completely foreign to me. I started watching football in 2005 and was drawn to the Eagles -- I grew up around Giants and Jets fans; they're disgusting people and I am better than that. And so it began. My love for the Eagles was one of the reasons I started looking at colleges in Philly, and ultimately chose to go to Drexel.

Fast forward to 2011. Mike Richards and Jeff Carter were just traded. Ilya Bryzgalov was the answer in net. Jaromir Jagr was in orange and black. The team that had been on the brink of the Cup just two seasons before had torn it all down. I had watched hockey casually throughout the years, but nothing serious. But this year was different. Honestly, I think it had a lot to do with Mike Vick being the Eagles starter -- I was never in support of the decision to sign him and I certainly was not going to put myself in the position of having to cheer for him.

So I turned to hockey. I read everything I could from the typical sources and it wasn't enough. I needed to learn more and I needed to learn fast. I asked people where they went to read about the Flyers, they all answered with CSN or, but it wasn't good enough for me. I did some casual internet searching and found Broad Street Hockey and immediately became a fangirl. This is where I was going to learn everything I needed to know about hockey! Between the links in the Fly By (shoutout to Kelly Hinkle who has no idea she helped me teach myself the game), all of the information from BSH writers, and the extensive SB Nation network, I was finally learning what I had been thirsting for.

In 2014 I saw a bizarre tweet from Anthony SanFilippo about how he was looking for outgoing female hockey fans with personality or something like that.

Personality? Yeah I got that. Outgoing? Yup, it me. Hockey fan? You bet your ass.

So I responded, not really sure what I was getting myself into. Turns out he was launching a sports podcast and was looking for a female co-host to join his panel. It was an intense audition process, 56 women applied and he picked the top 25 percent to audition live. These 25 were then narrowed down to 8, then from 8 to 4. I didn't win, which isn't shocking as I had no experience talking about sports before, but I did get second place. This meant I got to be a big part of the show, which was called The Scoop and hosted by Wildfire Radio, and joined Anthony, Rob Maaddi, Collin Mehalick, and the winner of the contest on a weekly basis.

I was hooked immediately. I couldn't get enough of the idea of talking to my friends about things that I was excited about. Now, I mentioned earlier that my family isn't into sports, and it turns out my friends aren't either. Or the friends I had at the time rather. No one in my life could have given less of a shit about hockey. So once a week I had two hours where I could talk about things that I was interested in and it turns out I was pretty good at talking too. During the 8 months The Scoop was on the air I expended my in real life hockey network both personally and professionally. I was asked to join Ava Graham on her new show with co-host Bill Matz.

The Scoop was discontinued in the spring of 2015, which was right around the time a group of friends approached me with an intriguing opportunity. They were a group of bloggers that were ready to branch off and start their own site and they wanted me to help launch a podcast associated with the site. This begins The Sons of Penn Era.

Bill and I launched The Sons of Penn Podcast in the summer of 2015 and continued through the summer of 2016. At one point we were up to 40+ writers across all sports, I managed everyone that wasn't a hockey writer as well as editing their work. It was the most fun I have had in possibly ever. On top of my day job, I was working another full time job for free and I felt like I had a purpose.

Sometime in the winter 2016 the decision was made to go Flyers only, so the podcast rebranded as The Orange Update. There was another rebrand in the summer 2016 as we partnered with Crossing Broad's Liberty Pods network; we were called SOP Radio. I know no one has ever really spoken about what happened between Bill and me and SOP, but the truth is there isn't much to tell. I love everyone at SOP and think they do great work — there were just philosophical and creative differences about the direction of the site and the direction of the podcast.

I approached Travis about bringing our voices to Broad Street Hockey and promised a consistent, weekly podcast. The rest, as they say, is history. Travis was on board, we've had at least one podcast a week since the beginning of the season and have started to branch into different media channels.

So, why do I do this? It's fun. Talking about hockey is fun for me. I have no attachment to being right all the time, I have fun just talking with people about topics that are exciting to me. Through doing this, I have built a strong network of other people who are also interested in the things I am interested in! I regularly chat with people across multiple countries and continents, and have met a handful of them. Most of the time we talk about hockey and food, but we are involved in each other's lives, there is a deeper connection there and hockey was merely the catalyst.

I have never felt more supported in my life. Whether I succeed or fall flat on my face, I know that I have people willing to stand by my side. I have never had that before. When I try something new, there are people and faces I know immediately there to take a listen or watch me talk to myself for hours on end. I can say with confidence these are all friends I have made in the past 3 years -- none of my family or friends from college are interested in what I'm up to in this realm. Talking about hockey, or all sports like we do on Yelling About Sports, gives me energy, it gives me a purpose, and it has given me a new family that I never anticipated and find myself incredibly grateful for.

I have been told recently that the reliability of BSH Radio has helped people get through some tough things they're dealing with personally, knowing that the four of us are going to be there every Monday night talking puck is a needed escape. I am someone who cares deeply for people, but I never imagined I would be able to impact individuals in this capacity. So the real answer is you. You are the reason I do this. When I'm not feeling well or when I'm having a bad day, I drag my miserable ass to the studio anyway, for you. Because I love you all and I love this team that has stolen my heart and has crushed my soul.

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