FANS JOIN STYRES FOR MEMORABLE LUNCHFeb 2, 2015
By Brian Antonio -- Jeff Kimmel, Keith Bushnell, and Kevin Keller thought that they were simply going out to lunch to meet Knighthawks Owner and General Manager Curt Styres on Saturday afternoon. But what awaited them at Benucci’s Italian Restaurant in Greece was more than they could have imagined.
Just as they were sitting down for a friendly meal, Styres presented each of them with a lacrosse stick and a poster-sized photograph representing the group’s favorite moment as Knighthawks fans.
“Being there for the game and being able to touch the Cup, it makes the picture we received that much more special,” said Kimmel.
The photo captures Kimmel, Bushnell, and Keller reaching over the glass in an attempt to touch the Cup while the rest of The Blue Cross Arena frantically celebrates the first ever three-peat in NLL history. It has become one of the most popular images from May 31st. The picture, which was signed by the entire team, now gives the fans a way to forever cherish the memory.
“That was a big surprise,” admitted Bushnell. “I love the picture. As Curt told us at lunch, the picture says it all. You have us three guys leaning over the glass to touch the Cup and we’re looking at the three-peat at the same time. It was a really special moment. It’s already up on my wall.”
“I loved the gifts,” laughed Keller. “It was extra special because it was from Curt.”
The three men met while working at the Walmart on Ridge Road in 2008. That’s when Kimmel recruited Bushnell and Keller to start attending Knighthawks games with him after he enjoyed his first experience with his wife in 2003.
“I love the game of lacrosse and the fast-paced action. The guys are really skilled,” said Kimmel. “I love the atmosphere and how the crowd gets really loud and into the games.”
Keller, having been a fan of all of the other local teams, says it was an easy decision to check out a game after he heard all of the hype.
“The games are a blast, and I just love the intensity,” said Keller. “I love going with all my friends,”
They began purchasing tickets as a group after they discovered how much they enjoyed watching the games together. They sit in Section 105 every game, where their group sometimes exceeds 30 people.
“The thing I enjoy most is getting back together with my Knighthawks crew,” said Bushnell. “There’s a bunch of us that go and it’s great getting back with everyone and enjoying the games.”
You can almost always expect Section 105 to be the loudest in the building, which has consistently been the case since the group took over the section in 2008.
“I’m the loud mouth of the crowd so I love to keep the crowd going and start the chants,” said Bushnell. “The crowd at the games and the intensity, it just fires you up.”
Styres and the rest the Knighthawks organization giving back to the fans is nothing new, and something that makes fans feel a sense of family and togetherness. They love how much Styres enjoys forming relationships with the fans.
“It makes me feel excited. Not everyone can sit down with the owner of their favorite team,” said Kimmel. “I think it’s great for the fans. It gives us a great sense of community. It’s good for the fans and it’s good for league.”
For Keller, the icing on the cake was being able to spend the time with the two men responsible for his Knighthawks fandom, whom he’s formed a great relationship with through the years.
“It was an honor to have the opportunity to meet Mr. Styres and get to know him as a person,” said Keller. “He is a great guy with a big heart, and I appreciate the gesture. The best part was I got to enjoy it with Jeff and Keith – my two best friends.”
It’s evident to Bushnell how passionate Styres is about the fan support and it’s something that makes him proud to be a part of the 7th Man.
“As a Knighthawks fan it makes me feel awesome the way he treats his fans. It’s unbelievable,” said Bushnell. “He’s done so many things since he became an owner. You see him everywhere. He loves lacrosse and he loves his fans. He came here to build a winner and built us a winner. It makes it even more exciting to be a fan.”