View Full Version : Contest Entry - How It All Got Started

09-25-2010, 08:45 AM
How It All Got Started by Karina Olliver

When I think back on my life, I can't really say for sure where my initial obsession for collecting came from. From an early age I was never really a flowers and Barbie’s kind of girl. I liked to ride horses, and while my friends were spending time at the mall, I was usually mucking stalls to help support my riding addiction. While my friends were listening to New Kids on the Block I was listening to country music, and above it all, I loved hockey. My friends would tune in to 21 Jump Street hoping to see Johnny Depp, while I would be tuning into Hockey Night in Canada, hoping to see Patrick Roy. I had such a crush; his poster was on my wall, next to John Wayne. It was a natural thing for me to start collecting Hockey Cards, looking for Patrick Roy. Being a girl in a mostly adolescent male hobby, I was definitely the odd man out, so to speak. Luckily I had a best friend, Shannon, another hockey fan girl who started collecting cards with me. Since we were ineligible to belong to the "boys hockey card collecting fraternity" we said to heck with the boys, and would trade cards with each other, she would trade me any Patrick Roy cards she got for any Mark Messier cards I got. I can clearly remember the corner store down the road that sold hockey cards. They had Score, Upper Deck, and if we were lucky Parkhurst. We would wait patiently Shannon and I for our allowance, and then run to the store to get our packs of cards. Those early days were sewing the seeds for what would become my true addiction later on. I can remember in those early days, one event of real excitement for us both was going to our first trade show. I can’t even remember where it was now, or much about it, but I do remember getting a trade show only promotional Alexander Daigle card. I left the show thinking I would be rich beyond my wildest dreams, thinking it would be worth so much money in the future. Little did I know.

As time passed on, so did my hockey card collecting. Not from any lack of desire or interest, more from a lack of money and space. Once I found myself living on my own trying to make ends meet in those early days, bills, not hobbies became the priority, and things like 2 ply toilet paper, and groceries that didn't involve the words "Kraft" were a luxury to be savored, and hockey cards became an unaffordable pursuit. I still kept all my cards though, packed carefully away in a collectors box that followed me from place to place, and the small ember of the collector still smoldered inside of me as I would look at them once in a while, remembering back to the easier carefree days when the allowance didn't have to accommodate anything but fun. I think I knew that I would be coming back, I just wasn't sure when. As it turns out it wouldn't be for several years.

Strangely, it was my marriage that got me back into card collecting. Not in the way you may think. It would be natural to assume that I married a sports fan, who was a collector himself, and I grew back into it from there, but the truth is pretty much the opposite. As much as I love my husband, he’s not the hard-bitten chiseled sports fan type. He’s more the rounder, nerdier sci-fi comic book type. He tries, he really does. In the 11 years we’ve been married he has managed to sit through two hockey games with me in their entirety, and has patiently vacated the living room where I have watched countless others. I’ve managed to school him in the basics so that when the announcer calls icing he knows what it means (he’s still a little fuzzy on the concept of the offside, but we’re working on it). As we live in Toronto, I’ve also managed to teach him some key phrases so that he can fit in with his friends at work. He has learned to say “The Leafs will when the cup this year” with just that proper air of condescension and righteousness so that the fellas in the office accept him as one of their own. I had mentioned to him early on in the marriage that I used to collect hockey cards. It wasn’t so much his affection for the game that helped me get back into collecting, but rather his affection for fast food. It was that time of year when McDonalds started releasing their yearly run of Hockey Cards, and being a kind and thoughtful man, as well as a big fan of bacon cheeseburgers, he remembered that I had said I used to collect, so he got some packs of cards with his hamburgers to bring home for me.

I can still remember my reaction to getting those packs of cards, and the reaction that has happened to me so often since I’ve started collecting again. Carefully ripping open that first pack and glimpsing the cards inside set off something, and it was like the years started falling away from me. It was a feeling that had been gone for so long, I’d all but forgotten it, and discovering it in a pack of hockey cards took me quite by surprise. It was that pure and simple feeling of anticipation, of fun, of excitement. That feeling of being a little kid again, running home with your hockey cards to see what you got. A simple rush of the excitement of the unexpected. From that very first pack, I knew I was hooked again. Luckily McDonald's was often a stop for my husband lunch, by the time they had stopped selling the cards that year I had the complete set. Thank God for bacon cheeseburgers and a husband who doesn't care about his cholesterol count.
Between them, they had solidified what I knew deep inside, I loved this hobby.

I discovered a vast difference between collecting now and collecting back then. Now that I was an adult, with a steady job and disposable income I could afford to do the kind of collecting I’d wanted to do for a long time, and I discovered how much more fun hockey cards had gotten. Jersey cards for example, I’d never even dreamed that something so cool would be mass produced, and the little squeal of excitement when I opened my first one brought my husband running to make sure nothing had caught on fire or exploded. The difference of buying packs to Hobby boxes, I didn't even know they existed, let alone being guaranteed to get Autographs, and GU's. From buying hobby boxes locally, it was a short step to finding an online community to trade with (having a nerd for a husband has uses sometimes) and discovering that I no longer needed to be envious of those nasty schoolyard boys who wouldn’t trade cards with “a girl”. There was a world online of wonderful people, who shared the same passion, and the community had expanded to a global family, I was trading with people not just in other cities, but also in other countries, all over the world. It was amazing. I didn’t feel out of place at all, there were other girls that collected as well. Not many, but enough to make me feel not quite so unique. Then just last year was the one trip I had been wanting to make since I started collecting again, which was to go to a card show with an eye to buy. I was well past the days of a small allowance and booster packs, and was looking forward to some serious collecting (or investing, as I explained it to my Husband). Of course I had to bring my husband with me, if for not other reason than to carry the bags. I admit, he took it well, though he was most definitely a fish out of water. Often booth owners would start by talking to him, only to be surprised that I was the one doing the buying. He tended to wander behind me, patiently waiting while I flipped through racks of cards with that "holding my wife's purse while she's trying on clothes" look that men often get in women's clothing stores when they're stuck outside of the changing rooms.

As my collection of Patrick Roy grows larger, from just over 40 cards, to over 300, I still enjoy that happy glow I get from each and every pack of cards I open, and the unmistakable thrill when you realize that you’ve pulled one of those spectacular cards. With some of the strange twists and turns that life has taken, and with all of its trials and difficulties, My hobby has let me come back to that simple childhood happiness I thought might be gone, and I wouldn’t trade that feeling of excitement from opening up a new pack of hockey cards, that joyful anticipation, not for anything. Not even for the rarest Patrick Roy card on earth.

09-26-2010, 06:02 PM


I had to lol when you mention being the girl who collects sports cards while the beloved is more of a sci-fi guy - it's the same situation with me and mine. He does like MMA, but I couldn't even get him into UFC cards. He's gotten me basketball cards as a present on occasion, though!