By Susan Lulgjuraj | Contributing Editor
The Winter Classic is almost here and fans are geared up for the match up between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh on New Year’s Day.
But tomorrow, one 9-year-old boy gets to live a dream when he gets to be the 2011 Winter Classic Stick Kid, which was sponsored by Upper Deck.
A promotion was conducted last month where 50 children between the ages of 8 and 14 submitted essays as to why they should be picked.
Robert Janson of Oakton, Va., won.
“This is the best day of my life,” said Janson, a third-grader. “I waited a little while before I started to write the essay, but I really wanted to see the Caps in action so bad.”
Janson will be the official stick kid for the Capitals practice on Friday. He will up close to his favorite players, including two-time league MVP Alexander Ovechkin.
Part of his prize pack includes tickets to the Winter Classic for him and his family, two nights of accommodations, a travel voucher for $250 and an Upper Deck prize pack.
Janson’s favorite player on the Caps is Mike Knuble partly because they share the same Latvian heritage. He also plays competitive youth hockey as a defenseman.
It’s a good thing the Caps aren’t playing the Philadelphia Flyers. His father Maris loves the Orange and Black.
His father’s love for the Flyers inspired part of Janson’s essay: “I think I should be selected as 2011 Winter Classic stick kid because I am a die-hard Capitals fans, which isn’t easy because my dad is from Philadelphia and ONLY loves the Flyers.
“The only person that roots for the Caps with me is my mom. Last year, she had treatment for breast cancer but we still watched the Caps. We haven’t been able to go anywhere much so I would love to see the Winter Classic. Even though it was a rough year, I still got good grades and didn’t miss any of my hockey practices or games.”
His fandom for the Caps and his love and patience through his family’s ordeal made Janson an easy pick. He maintained good values and kept a level head.
“Robert’s the one that really stepped up to the plate this past year,” said his mother Sonja, who has gone through radiation and chemotherapy to treat her breast cancer. “He’s done so much more than an 8-year-old should have to do. Plus, since we just moved into a new house and he started a new school, he’s done everything that we’ve asked and so much more.”