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Kate Holzemer: Hockey Blogger, Violist

Get to know a Buffalonian...

Kate Holzemer: Hockey Blogger, Violist

It wasn’t until Holzemer became a fan of the Buffalo Sabres that she finally felt like a Buffalonian. Six years after moving to town in 2001 to join the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra as a violist, Holzemer got swept up in playoff fever, and shortly after started the Willful Caboose ( [Before you ask, the name is nonsensical.] After initially claiming to know nothing about hockey, her analysis has sharpened over the years and by now should be considered daily reading for puck heads.

How does a Minnesota girl grow up and not take a liking to hockey?

I think it’s mostly because my dad wasn’t a hockey fan. Hockey was never on in our house so I never picked it up. Plus, I grew up in Minneapolis where high school hockey isn’t as huge as it is in the suburbs and in some parts of rural Minnesota. But really, with the exception of the Twins, I wasn’t much of a sports fan at all when I was growing up. I was a music nerd.

What brought you to Buffalo in the first place?

I moved here in 2001 to join the viola section of the BPO. Getting a job in an orchestra like the Buffalo Philharmonic has been the fulfillment of a lifelong dream, but as far as locations go, Buffalo was a rather random place to wind up. To be honest, I would have moved to the moon for a job playing the viola.

What was it about the Buffalo hockey scene and the Sabres that turned you into a fan? Did you just wake up one morning and say to yourself, “Well, I’m here. Might as well try and fit in?”

Yeah, pretty much. For the first few years I lived in Buffalo I had a very difficult time feeling settled. I always liked Buffalo, but for a long time I felt out of place here. In the spring of 2007 I got swept up in the Stanley Cup playoffs. I loved the sport almost instantly, but what really hooked me on the Sabres was the positive energy of the fans around town. For me, hockey was my entry point into Buffalo. After years of feeling like a stranger in a strange land, suddenly, through the collective hope of Sabres fans, I had direct access to the emotional core of Buffalo. I started cheering for the Sabres, and just like that, I became a Buffalonian.

Why do you think there is such strong following of hockey among the ladies of Western New York?

I suspect that anywhere you find a strong culture of hockey you’re going to find knowledgeable lady fans. Hockey is a big—and fun—part of the culture of Buffalo. Why wouldn’t women want to be a part of that? A girl growing up in Buffalo is going to be around hockey her whole life, so naturally, if she’s inclined to enjoy sports she’ll learn a thing or two about hockey.

Do you think the culture of female hockey fans is more mainstream or more accepted than those of baseball, basketball or football?

I really can’t claim to be super familiar with the “culture of female fans” in those other sports, so this is a tricky question. I will say this—I’ve never encountered any type of meaningful resistance from other hockey fans because of my gender. I mean, sure, there are a few jerks here and there, but they can be easily dismissed as “complete morons”. The idea that women can’t be serious and heartfelt fans of any sport is completely preposterous, and anyone with a functioning brain knows that.

Are you as giddy as we are about the prospect of a Terry Pegula ownership?

Giddy doesn’t begin to cover it. Terry Pegula, if you’re reading this, let me take this opportunity to publicly declare that I am your loyal servant and minion. Should you ever need a viola player, a Sabres blogger, or an entertaining “yes man,” I’m your girl.

Golisano was the right owner at the right time, but I’m incredibly excited about the idea of a new, hockey-loving owner. It almost feels too good to be true, which is why I need to stop talking about this before I inadvertently jinx the whole thing.

If you had to select five guys on this team to stick with going forward, who are you keeping? What do you think this team needs most to be competitive?

Ryan Miller, for obvious reasons [i.e.- general awesomeness]. Tyler Myers, because only a moron wouldn’t choose him, and I’m not a moron. Thomas Vanek, because I’m assuming that in this imaginary world where I’m starting my own hockey team there is no salary cap and I don’t have to pay him a kagillion dollars a year. Derek Roy, who I can’t really believe made this list, but let’s face it, we need so that we’ll have someone to score during the half of the season when Vanek is slumping.

After those guys it’s kind of a crap shoot. My heart says Goose, because, well...because I love Goose. My brain says Sekera, because Sekera seems to be rehabilitating Tyler Myers, and Lord knows we’d all like to avoid, “Tyler Myers Loses His Defensive Partner And Forgets How to Play Hockey, Part II”. My inner-Darcy Reiger says Tyler Ennis, because in this organ-eye-zation we protect our assets and build from within, and because Ennis is an important part of the future, and blah blah blah.

Maybe I’ll let the first four decide who they think the fifth guy should be. (I secretly hope they choose McCormick.)

I think in order to be truly competitive, the Sabres need both Ryan Miller and Tyler Myers to be at peak performance, and they need to acquire at least one forward who’s better than any forward they currently have on the roster.

Lindy, yea or nay? While popular with the fans, he seems to be a polarizing figure among the punditry.

I’m “Yay” on Lindy’s delightful personality, yellow hair, postgame interviews, and his place in the hearts of Buffalonians. I’m 100% “NAY” on the idea that he should have a job for life as the coach of the Sabres. I’m very willing to believe that Lindy is a great coach, but it also makes sense to me that when a team is floundering, a fresh voice in the locker room could be very helpful. Basically, I think Lindy should work under the same expectations of success as every other coach in the league.

BONUS: What do you think of Ryan Miller’s cereal? Are you as disappointed as I am that they just recycled last year’s leftover T.O.’s?

I’m glad you asked! I have no problem with Ryan’s cereal being O’s. T.O. doesn’t get to take ownership of the time-tested O just because he happens to have an O in his name. Plus, there’s no way Miller would endorse a sugary cereal, and so other than O’s, the only real option is flakes and I think flakes are stupid (too soggy). You can never have too much cereal shaped like O’s, in my opinion. I’m pro-O.

HOWEVER, I’m totally creeped out by the graphic design on the box. The way Miller is glaring out from behind his goalie mask gives me the willies, and those milk “icicles” dripping down the side of the bowl are just plain disturbing. There’s something menacing about those O’s. To be honest, I’m a little scared of my box of Kick-Save Krunch.

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