Editor’s Note: The season of change continues. Longtime BTSHer Anthony Romeo is calling it quits after this year’s playoffs. Here are a few final thoughts from the best dressed goaltender in the league …
When I decided that this season would be my last in BTSH, it came with a lot of reflection. It’s been 9 years now. I’ve been booed, I’ve been cheered. I’ve won, I’ve lost, I’ve tied, I’ve been robbed by referees. I’ve joined teams, I’ve left a team. I’ve seen league leadership changes, total overhauls of the media team, and an entire rink relocation. I’ve seen hundreds of different women take my empty Poland Spring bottles.
I wanted to take a few quick moments to reach out to the BTSH universe, to thank you all so much for everything you’ve given me over the last 9 seasons. When I started in the league, I was 19, had just gotten my first job in New York City, and was introduced to BTSH by a man who noticed that I was shooting security sensors into a mop bucket with a reacher-hook in a department store.
Now, I’m 28, I’m married, I’m happy. My life is more settled, there’s a routine, responsibilities. The things I saw everyone else having, I knew I’d get someday. The many men and women in BTSH helped me find an identity in this gigantic city of ours, you all made me feel welcome, made me feel like a part of it all.
Being an openly gay athlete has never been an issue in our league. I like to think that we embraced diversity and focused only on court-performance, long before groups like the “You Can Play” project made it hip. Whether it was red and black or orange, when I tugged my Romeo jersey over my head, that’s the only thing you all noticed.
I’ve noticed some things about you and your teams. In no specific order, here’s a quick memory for each of you.
Fresh Kills – I hate you. Can you stop beating me in the playoffs with 90 seconds left? No, really.
Lbs. – Seth, my goalie buddy. You got so old. How are you still winning?
Demons – Uh, yea no. Not getting myself into trouble there. Too easy. WAY too easy.
Anklebiters – You’re still around? That’s cool.
Hookers – Can’t wait to see you guys continue losing in the Finals. #consistency #sorrydustin
Math – Andy Pratt, gentleman extraordinaire. Married out of his league.
La Famiglia – Your offense makes me want to one-two-punch you in the face. Stop scoring on me.
Elves – Proof that even those with disabilities can be mainstreamed, with patience and humility.
Rainbows – How soon til the babies lace up the sneakers and get out there?
Butchers – Second toughest playoff loss of my 9-years, thanks Arthur.
Gremlins – Are we still pretending you’re not the Unicorns? Tip of the hat, LaCombe.
Skyfighters – I’ll remain the one goalie that James Stein has never out-dueled in net. Ever.
Gut Rot – Bill Tucker, the most gentlemanly goalie ever in net. Thanks for your friendship. Go Devils.
Filthy Gorgeous – James, Suvin, Sunny. I’ll see you in Hell. You’re way too good.
Mega Touch – The wild card team that can beat you on any given week. My first BTSH shut-out.
Poutine – I still think you’re saying dirty things in French about me. And I like that.
Cobra Kai – Best logo in all of BTSH, hands down.
Riots – Wait, who?
Rehabs – Too much to say. First win, first team, first shutout, first playoff run. The beginning.
WTP – My family. My first Finals appearance. My heart. The end.
I’ll miss you guys a bunch, and I’m excited to step away from BTSH in good health, happy and forever grateful for the friendships I’ve made, the families I’ve been proud to step into, and the number I was lucky enough to wear for 9 amazing years.
If you want to keep up with me, my pieces for Huffington Post, or just my general feelings on anything and everything, you can follow me on Twitter @AnthonyRomeo1.
There’s no farewell tour, just a smile and a nod. I might be gay, but I’m not Cher. Goodbye means goodbye.
Love you all, except anyone on the Demons.