She could be anyone’s daughter, sister, niece – she even could be you.
Blues fan Laila Anderson embodied this city’s love for its boys on ice – its Stanley Cup champions. And she gave every fan the opportunity to see the season through her eyes.
A fan, an ordinary – OK, maybe not-so-ordinary – fan got to join the players on the ice in the madness that was the Game 7 celebration. She got to kiss the cup!
It’s one thing to watch history unfold through the eyes of those who make it happen. It’s something else to see it through the eyes of a fan.
She was a super fan but she’s also a Parkway girl – a soon-to-be middle schooler at Parkway South. West Newsmagazine is her hometown paper. So we just had to connect for a look back and a glimpse forward.
West: When were you certain that your boys were bringing home the Stanley Cup?
Laila: I have always been confident in my boys. I never once doubted them, not even when they were in last place.
West: What was it like to be in Boston when that final puck flew into the net?
Laila: It was almost like a dream. I couldn’t believe I was there, watching history being made. I was so happy for the team I just couldn’t wait to get on that ice and hug them. My mom and I had the best time ever.
West: Did you ever dream that the Blues would adopt you the way they have?
Laila: They are my friends and friends are there in good times and in bad. They have seen me go through a lot this year. They always told me to keep fighting and that’s what I did. I fought for them and they fought for me, and in the end, we both won!
West: How did your friendship develop with Colton Parayko?
Laila: He would see me at the tunnel for warm ups at all the games. I always stand in the same spot and say hi to all the boys. Then, we got to go trick or treating together [at an event sponsored by the Blues and St. Louis Children’s Hospital] and our friendship grew from there. He is the nicest person ever.
West: What’s your prediction for next season?
Laila: This was so much fun, I say we just do it all again next season!
West: Next year is a big year for you. Just as the Blues get back on the ice, you begin middle school at Parkway South. What are you most looking forward to as you begin sixth grade? Are you nervous?
Laila: I’m most looking forward to Colton coming to school with me one day. He’s going to come with Louie and sign autographs for my classmates. I’m nervous about middle school. There will be lots of kids from other schools that don’t know my story. They don’t know how I looked with hair and half the weight I am today.
West: What do your friends think about your celebrity status?
Laila: I don’t really feel like a celebrity, but they do think it’s cool I got to kiss the cup and celebrate with my boys.
West: Do you skate?
Laila: I used to ice skate a little but haven’t been able to since I became sick two years ago. But when I’m healthy enough and have my strength back I wouldn’t mind taking a spin at Enterprise Center!
And finally a few words from Laila’s mom, Heather.
West: What has it been like to watch your daughter blossom in the spotlight of this Blues season?
Heather: I’m grateful she had something to fight for, something to keep her spirts up and something to celebrate at the end. Every one of those boys have been so good to her. The Blues organization, the city of St. Louis and hockey fans everywhere have shown so much support. She is a special kid and I am extremely proud of how she has handled everything.
West: What are you excited about in terms of what comes next for Laila?
Heather: I hope Laila lives a long healthy and happy life. As a mom, that’s all you want for your child. And if she ever needs a good pep talk, she has a whole team of boys that will always be there for her.