Tuesday, March 18, 2014, was a very special day for 17-year-old Sam Tageson. The San Jose Sharks die-hard fan fulfilled his lifelong dream of becoming a professional hockey player for the Sharks. Prior to the Sharks’ game against the Florida Panthers, Sam spent his entire day as a Sharks player, thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the San Jose Sharks Foundation.
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Born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, which is a condition that is potentially life-threatening, Sam was advised by his doctors not to have an active lifestyle. Going against the doctors’ advice, Sam plays hockey and rides a skateboard even to this day. Not letting his illness rule over him, Sam is doing his best to live his life to the fullest, but he will more likely be requiring a heart transplant in the future.
Love how the National Hockey Players’ Association reports the happenings of that day: Tuesday began like a dream for Sam. First, he signed an official one-day contract with the Sharks. He put on his uniform and participated in the morning skate. Sam spent the day with the players who gave him some on-ice tips to improve his game. He even got to score a few goals on Sharks goaltender, Alex Stalock.
He was introduced to the media after the morning skate just like a proper NHL player. Sam was interviewed by a few reporters when he emerged from the dressing room after the morning practice.
Sam became the first nonplayer in the Sharks’ history to skate out through the iconic giant Shark head during the pre-game warm-up just prior to the puck drop. He stood with the Sharks’ starting lineup on the ice for the national anthem. He received a standing ovation when he was introduced to the crowd and showed on the jumbotron during the game.
Sharks’ alternate captain, Patrick Marleau, stated, “It’s a great experience with smoke, lights, the fans cheering… it’s going to be great.” While Logan Couture said that all the Sharks players spent some time with Sam Tageson, and they could feel how excited Sam was. He added that it was an awesome moment for the team. Here are some of their tweets:
— San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) March 18, 2014
Tough game but amazing to see what hockey can do… Touching night to see Sam fly outta the shark…amazing experience at the tank — Brent Burns (@Burnzie88) March 19, 2014
Disappointing to lose tonight really wanted that one for Sam Tageson… what a great kid and makes you appreciate what you have! #rolemodel
— jason demers (@jasondemers5) March 19, 2014