Devoted Bolts Fan Travels From Japan To See
By ERIK ERLENDSSON firstname.lastname@example.org
Published: Oct 14, 2001
LOS ANGELES - Steve Williamson may be the most devoted
hockey fan the Lightning have seen.
While the Lightning quite possibly have some of the most loyal
fans in the NHL to suffer through four consecutive 50-loss
(including overtime losses), Williamson's loyalty runs 5,425
That's how far the Vice President for Marketing for Universal
Studios in Japan traveled this weekend to watch the Lightning
His weekend excursion to California has prompted his two sons,
Nick, 13, and Alex, 10, to question their father's sanity.
Williamson came halfway around the world to see three hockey
games in four days.
On Thursday, Williamson boarded a plane in Osaka, Japan, to
catch the Lightning play in San Jose, Calif., a 10- hour flight.
He followed that with Saturday's game in Los Angeles and
expects to be in attendance tonight in Anaheim as Tampa Bay
concludes a three-game swing through California.
Williamson's family, including wife Michelle, flew from Orlando
on Friday to join him in Los Angeles for Saturday's game.
``I just needed a hockey fix,'' said Williamson, a Lightning
season ticket holder from 1992-2000. ``It's one of those things
where it was easier for me to get to the West Coast than to fly
into Tampa to see some hockey. So after I saw the schedule, I
figured with the price of air fares, that I needed to come out
and see some Lightning hockey.''
Decked out in a No. 3 Pavel Kubina game-worn rookie jersey
with the John Cullen four- leaf clover patch from the 1997-98
season, Williamson found a single ticket for less than face
value Thursday in San Jose.
A collector of game worn jerseys - he has a Brian Bradley
Lightning jersey and a Roman Hamrlik jersey from the Atlanta
Knights among his collection - Williamson lost touch with the
NHL after he moved to Florida in the mid- 1980s. When Tampa
Bay began play in the 1992-93 season, the former New York
resident bought season tickets and made the trip from Orlando.
That's when Williamson was asked to help start up Universal's
new theme park in Japan. He said trying to keep in contact with
what happens in the NHL is not easy. There are no satellite
feeds to pick up NHL games and the only time he gets to watch
a game on TV is during the Stanley Cup finals when the games
are shown on tape delay.
``I would have some friends tape some games for me and mail
them out, but it's not quite the same when you already know
what the score is,'' Williamson said.
So for now, his four-day trip will have to satisfy his need. He is
scheduled to fly back to Japan on Monday and return to work.
Williamson said he expects to remain in Osaka at least through
the end of next summer.
When his tour of duty in Japan is complete, he will return home
to Orlando, and again purchase a season-ticket plan, when he
can cure his hockey fix on a more regular basis. And the trip
will be much shorter.
Erik Erlendsson can be reached at (813) 259-7717.