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Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Belfast Giants Awards 2016

"I have one piece of advice for those of you who want to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award: Start early!"
Shirley Temple

Gosh this seems like forever ago now. Last year I'm pretty sure I wrote about it the day I got home but this year there was no danger of that happening. Plus I still needed to catch up on an instalment of My Week In Words to keep things in chronological order. And speaking of My Week In Words, I've decided that this will be in place of the 13th edition for 2016 and the reason why will make sense at the end of the post. So on with the awards!

They took place on Sunday the 20th of March at the Ramada Plaza Hotel. Eva and I had decided to stay at the hotel again like we did last year and because there had been ice hockey games on Friday and Saturday we had left all our packing to Sunday morning. Despite this, I really didn't get up as early as I had planned. I wanted to spend as much time as possible in bed cuddling my Chihuahua baby, Edwin. I finally got up once Dad had my fry up made. I'd made sure he was cooking a big breakfast as I needed set up for the night of drinking ahead. After a shower it was time to pack and I think we got it done in record time. As it was a Sunday and my dad was off work, we were able to go to the hotel for check in and get ready there. So we headed there about 2pm and got there at 2:30pm.

I didn't think to make sure what time check in was at as all the places I'd been before had been 2pm but it turned out that check in was actually 3pm. Luckily the room was already ready so we didn't have to wait around. I'm not going to include a photo of the room as I'm sure I did that last year and it was basically the same. Plus I forgot to take a photo before our stuff made it look like a bomb had exploded. Once Eva and I settled into our room we watched some Housewives Of Atlanta and ate sandwiches. Eventually we started getting ready. As much as I love the Ramada it was a bit of a nightmare to get dressed in. The lighting in the room was terrible and made the room feel really claustrophobic. Thankfully the bathroom had a bright light. I even opted to stay in there while Eva was in the bath as I couldn't face the lighting in the bedroom. Once the steam from Eva's bath went away I got started on my make up before Eva did my hair.

I didn't actually get a proper photo of my outfit but you'll get the idea from later photos with the players. While we got dressed we got distracted by an episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians and ended up being late. Yes. We got to the hotel at 2:30pm and were still late. By the time we got there they'd stopped checking tickets and people were already getting seated in the main hall. I was later bummed out to find we'd miss the chance to buy raffle tickets. We checked which table we were at and were happy to find out we were sitting with our chosen player, Mitch Ganzak. His heavily pregnant wife was also sitting at he table. Dude is a lucky guy. She was stunning. Last year we'd frozen and said we didn't care who we sat with, so we didn't end up sitting with anyone so it was cool to have a Giant at our table this year. Once Eva got me settled at the table she went to get us drinks. We'd already had one or two in the room so we were already a little tipsy. When everybody was seated they introduced the players to their tables.  As cool as it was sitting at the same table as a player, seeing as it was an awards ceremony there wasn't much interaction. Ganzak ended up being one of the few players I didn't get a photo with, which is kind of funny. Once the players were seated the awards began. Before they started announcing who'd won what there was some banter and jokes as they recapped the season. My highlight was the video about Matt Nickerson's Race To 20. It was legit hilarious.

Basically at the beginning of the season it was predicted that he would score 20 goals. He'd scored 4. 

I'm not going to list all the awards given as well, they won't really mean anything to most of you. However I took a few photos of some of my favourites receiving awards.
Mitch Ganzak got Defenceman of the Year. I legit wanted to steal his award off the table. They were super nice.   

Adam Keefe won the Fan's Favourite, Community Service and Player's Player of the Year awards. All well deserved. It was a nice touch when he gave his Player's Player of the Year award to Jason 'Taff' Ellery, the Belfast Giants' equipment manager. A true gent.

Finally, my pick for this year's Most Valuable Player award, James Desmarais. He's been a big highlight of the season for me and I was happy others agreed.

Last year we were at the back of the room so we were just about able to get in and out during the ceremony but this year we were right near the front so we were pretty stuck as the tables were so close together. Seated right behind me was Brandon Benedict, another player. I didn't want to cause him any injuries by trying to reverse my tipsy self out of my place at the table. By the end of the ceremony I was almost wetting myself. Like, legit. As soon as it was over Eva and I made a break for our room. While we were there we refilled our glasses. One of the perks of having a room.

There was a tiny bit of a slow start to the after party as I couldn't see anybody I knew. Plus by that point I still wasn't so drunk that I wasn't socially anxious. (Disclaimer: I'm not saying I drink to ease my anxiety.) Eva and I were standing like wallflowers when Adam Keefe said hi and gave me a fist bump on the way to the bar. After that we seen my friend Sarah and her friend Nicola. I went to school with Sarah and we bumped into each other last year at the awards. She and her posse are a lot of fun. Sadly I didn't get any photos with her this year I don't think. On my phone at least.

I'm not going to lie. The rest of the evening is a bit of a blur. Once I had enough liquid courage I just floated around, chatting to people and getting photos with players. Other people I bumped into were Haley, Claire, the two Daves and some I actually DID get a photo with, Myles, Cheryl and Cheryl's friend Ashee. Myles also introduced me to his friend Mark, who was really nice too. If there's anyone I seen but I've forgotten to mention, eh.. don't take it personally. I've done well remembering this much. It was great seeing everyone and as much as it's awesome meeting players, friends really make the night.

Eva and I with an awesome friend I made this year, Myles.

Anyway, cue an abundance of photos I got with the players.

Here I am with Cheryl, Ashee and Matt Nickerson. 
You can also see Haley in the background.  

With James Desmarais who won Most Valuable Player.

This photo is awful but Chris Higgins is awesome so I wanted to include it.
Please excuse the quality

With number 7, Mark Garside.

This is a dude I would love to have back next year, Mike Radja. 

Here I am with rosy cheeks, Jeff Mason.

The lovely Kris Beech.
Probably the closest I'll get to a Penguins or Canucks game. Ha!

Eva being adorable with David Rutherford.
She was stunning that night. Her dress and style was so different to everyone else's. 

Obviously I also got a photo with Rutherford.
He's a great player and I hope is back in teal come September. 

I guess I must have forgotten I'd already gotten one but I got another photo 
with Matt Nickerson for some reason. Ah, gotta love alcohol.

I just had to get a photo with my 'dad's man' (his words, not mine), Brandon Benedict.

While all the guys were lovely, as you'd expect. My favourite interaction this year was with our newest player, Jim Vandermeer. He was only with us a handful of weeks but it didn't make him any less interested in connecting with fans. He even had a little bit of banter about not being able to crouch down to me because he'd seen my chair could rise up. 

Wish we'd had him longer! 

He then decided to photo-bomb my photo with Rob Stewart, 
who was a tad worse for wear.

And those are all the photos I got of the evening. I had an amazing night and so did Eva. I was worried it wouldn't live up to last year but I'm glad to say it did and I'm already looking forward to next year. In the early hours of the morning Eva and I said goodbye to Myles and Mark and headed to our room to go to bed. 

We got up around 8:30am on Monday morning and got ready to head for breakfast. I'd been looking forward to it all year. When I was younger I was never fussy on hotel breakfast but now I live for them. Gosh, even writing about it right now I wish I had it... 

The breakfast was glorious. Once again Eva couldn't enjoy hers because her hangover was so bad. Thankfully I didn't have that problem. After breakfast we went back to the room to pack and get ready to check out. Last year my aunt was off for Easter the week the awards was on so she gave Eva and I a lift home but this year she was working and so was my dad so we had to arrange a taxi. We checked out around 11am and waited for the taxi. He ended up being about thirty minutes late as he'd gone to a different hotel by accident. We were supposed to only be getting the taxi to the train but he said since he was late he'd do us a 'favour' and charge us only £4 more than what it would cost for the taxi and the train combined. We accepted but Eva said she thinks he was bullshitting as she'd gotten a taxi from Belfast before and it had cost the same. So he wasn't really doing us a favour.

I'd had him recommended to me by another wheelchair user but to be honest I wouldn't use him again. My chair didn't have any turning space in the taxi and I had to travel sideways. Not good on a hangover. He put two straps on my chair and no seatbelt on me. He then proceeded to shake my chair and say "Oh yes, you're not going anyway." If I wasn't socially anxious I would have mentioned the fact him shaking my chair does not simulate a car crash. This is why I hate getting taxis. You never know what you're getting until it's too late and I'm too anxious to say "No, this isn't safe. Let me out." Thankfully the drive went smoothly but I did start to feel sick. The taxi was going to let us off at our door but we decided to get out at a shop about five minutes from our house so we could stock up on hangover munchies, plus I needed the fresh air. We bought an abundance of food and then made the short walk home with our luggage.

The rest of the day was spent being hungover, munching on food and browsing online. I'd recently started reading a book called Strong Signal by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell about gamers and it inspired me to start gaming a bit myself. So I downloaded a game called Tera and that's why this week's edition of My Week In Words is just this post. I literally spent the rest of the week doing nothing other than playing Tera.

One of my super adorable characters.

I even got Eva on board and we started playing together, which has been great fun. So yeah... I'm pretty much a full blown gamer now. Just kidding. But I've been having a lot of fun. I may suck at console games but apparently I'm alright at games played on my laptop. If anyone has any suggestions of games I should try I would love that. Though I'll try not to get so addicted that I do nothing other than play so I'll still have something to write for My Week In Words.

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