This is the eighth in a series of 18 stories examining the best events an Indiana sports fan would want to see over a lifetime.
Throughout Fort Wayne's history, sports fans have never been shy about expressing their favorites, which has led to some great rivalries. Indiana or Purdue? North Side or South Side? Bishop Luers or Bishop Dwenger? Northrop or Snider? Homestead or Carroll? Cubs or Sox? Chicago Bears or Indianapolis Colts?
But the one team everyone in the Summit City roots for has been the Fort Wayne Komets. Maybe that's because for 59 years the Komets have always been Fort Wayne's own team, a franchise we didn't have to share with everyone else. It's also because of players who came back year after year and built continuity, and the more than 100 who made Fort Wayne their permanent home when they retired. The Komets became a part of the community, and the community adopted them.
Now the Komets are part of Fort Wayne's identity as much as Glenbrook Square, the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo, the Mad Anthonys golf tournament, the Johnny Appleseed Festival or Science Central. They are part of who we are as a city.
That's why it's so much fun to go to playoff games. Sure, we could have picked the Thanksgiving, New Year's Eve or opening-night contests as our Komets game to go to, but really, how many of those stick out in your memory?
No, the Komets games everyone remembers are the playoff games. Every Komets fan knows what Justin Hodgman, Lonnie Loach and Pokey Reddick are famous for. It also helps when you can hate on the opposing players, too, and everyone also knows why Tyler Willis, Larry Sterling and Les Reaney are famous in Fort Wayne.
Playoff games have passion and energy and constant hitting, and they also have drama and controversy. Then there's tailgating, orange-outs and lots of face paint, and playoff beards and Janice Shepler's signs, Icy's antics and, best of all, overtimes.
Oh, man, can the season please get here soon so we can get to the playoffs that much faster?