How A Young Fan Fell In Love With The Riptide

Brett Adler/New York Riptide

When the New York Riptide took on the Georgia Swarm this past March 7th at the Nassau Coliseum, nobody in attendance knew it at the time but it would be the final game of the Riptide’s inaugural season.  The 11-7 loss dropped the Riptide to a record of 1-12 on the season and there were still five more games left in the regular season.  That’s five more chances to try and have that winning feeling again before the end of the season, but as we all know now, the sports world shut down that week because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The National Lacrosse League would ultimately announce on April 8th that the rest of the season would be cancelled.

But while there was sadness over what was going on in the world and that, to a lesser extent and importance, that the return of indoor box lacrosse to Long Island would be suspended for a while, there was a moment that night at the Nassau Coliseum that changed the life of a young man in attendance while also giving the first year franchise one of it’s first “super fans” and the feeling that they would be able to build a fan base because of the way that they could engage with and interact with fans of all ages.

Chase Adler, from Boehmia on Long Island, was eight years old at the time and was at the game with his family that night. To say that he is now a New York Riptide fanatic would be an understatement because he knows the roster and the statistics as well as anyone (watch out Riptide broadcasters Dave Leno, Mitch Belisle and Dani Wexelman!).  Chase has been playing lacrosse for two years and is a third grader in the Connetquot School System.

(The Adler Family)

A Young Riptide Fan Becomes A Superfan: 

It was the third time during the season that Chase, along with his father Brett and mother Tammy, were at the Coliseum for a Riptide game.  They were at the first home game in franchise history on December 28th, 2019 when the Riptide faced the Saskatchewan Rush and it took Chase a little time to adjust to the fact that box lacrosse looked a little different than outdoor lacrosse.

“It was kind of weird because I wasn’t used to that but then I got used to it,” said Chase, who is a goalie on his lacrosse team.

“Chase was a little confused watching them jump over the boards and stuff because he was used to playing regular field lacrosse.   After that, he just went nuts and took off with it,” said his father Brett who remembers going to New York Saints games back in the day at Nassau Coliseum.

At the March 7th game, Chase and his mother Tammy went down to the boards to watch pre-game warmups.  That night, Chase had brought with him a sign that he made and held it up against the glass.  A number of players gave him fist bumps through the glass and then Riptide forward Connor Kelly tried to flip Chase a ball but it bounced over his head and into the hands of another fan.

Riptide defenseman Scott Johnston watched this all unfold and came over to the boards with a ball in hand.  Johnston reached through the photographer hole in the glass and moved the camera lens of a photographer over to give her the ball along with instructions to make sure that it is given to Chase.

(Riptide defenseman Scott Johnston/Chase with the ball)

“Yeah that’s exactly how I remember it,” recalled Johnston.  “It’s pretty heartbreaking because there’s five or six kids calling for a ball and you toss it over and if you see a kid get up and not get one, you want to make their day as well.”

And he certainly did just that for Chase and the ball now resides in the young man’s bedroom, a room that now shows just how much in love the young man is with his favorite team.

A Riptide Room For A Terrific Student: 

When the pandemic started, New York State closed schools forcing students to finish the academic year with remote learning.  It wasn’t an easy thing for kids to get used to, but Chase adjusted to it very well and as a reward for his outstanding grades, his parents had a present for him.  Because of his academic excellence, Brett and Tammy told Chase that he could get his room redone and that he could design it.

The room had featured a “Paw Patrol” theme, but Chase said goodbye to the likes of Ryder, Marshall, Rubble, and yes even to the “Chase” character and decided that his bedroom would be a tribute to the Riptide!

“I was all for it,” said his mom Tammy.  “I’m a very big Riptide fan myself.  We go to the games and have a fantastic time.  Chase would take some paper on a clipboard and draw the floorplan.”

(Chase’s Riptide Room)

So, while Brett did the initial paint job on the room and scoured the internet with Tammy for Riptide items including a comforter for Chase’s bed, he enlisted the services of his sister Nicole Adler, an artist, to paint Riptide logos and a photo of team mascot Eddy on the walls.

“I was so excited,” said Chase who would draw up the plans and then seek approval.  “I designed it and then I asked my parents.”

All of the plans were approved and the project was completed to the delight of Chase as well as the entire Riptide organization who shared photos of the room on their social media channels.

Not only has Chase been over the moon about his new bedroom, but he also recently celebrated his 9th birthday on December 1st and had a special guest stop by to say hello, drop off some gifts and check out the room.  Eddy brought with him the Riptide season tickets that his parents had purchased along with some signed Riptide cards.

“So excited to be a part of Chase’s birthday!” tweeted Eddy.  “Happy that you were surprised with season tickets and I’m looking forward to seeing you at our games this spring!”

(Eddy pays a visit to Chase)

“Also…can we talk about how AWESOME Chase’s room is ?!?!?” tweeted the Riptide.

“That room is just amazing,” said Johnston.  “And the fact that Chase is such a die-hard fan now…that’s what we’re trying to establish with the Riptide.  We’re an expansion team and building a fan base and we’re starting from the ground up and seeing the fans be that passionate already is amazing.”

Chase Is An Example Of How The Riptide Will Build A Fan Base:

Not to say that teams and players from the four major sports don’t connect with fans or do things in the community because they do and there are teams in our area like the Islanders, Mets, Jets, and Knicks who spend hours and hours doing community outreach.  But what the Riptide and the sport of lacrosse can provide sometimes are things that you just don’t see in the major sports for a variety of reasons.

Lacrosse is, by nature, an amazing grassroots sports and you’ll be hard-pressed to find too many neighborhoods on Long Island when you drive down the block and don’t see a lacrosse net or kids playing lacrosse in front of a house.  The players, coaches, and staff are down to earth people who love the sport and love being ambassadors of the sport with the objective at the professional level being to grow the fan base one fan at a time.

In many cases, like with Chase, that one fan at a time is a child and with that comes turns from growing the fan base one fan at a time to one family at a time.

“It’s fantastic,” said Tammy.  “They are just absolutely wonderful players and the fact that when Chase made the sign and I stood down there with him and the players were tapping the glass and then Scott Johnston gave him the ball, it’s amazing.”

(Chase At Riptide Training Academy Camp)

And then over the summer, Chase attended the Riptide Training Academy Camp at Dek Superstars in Massapequa and he spent a lot of time talking with and learning from Riptide players Connor Kelly and Cody Radziewicz.  Chase is a full-fledged Riptide fanatic and he certainly is an expert on the roster as well as the rest of the NLL.

“(Chase) knows so many stats on all of the players and the players on other teams,” said Brett.  “He watches all the games on DVR.  He watches them over and over.”

When the 2021 NLL season is expected to begin in April, the Adler family will be in their seats at the Nassau Coliseum cheering on the Riptide.  Chase will no doubt resume his “tradition” of going down to the glass to see the players during warmups and cheering so hard during the games that he’ll inevitably lose his voice.  When the game is over, win or lose, Chase will watch his beloved Riptide players head back to the locker room and then he’ll go home with his family and go to sleep in his amazing Riptide bedroom.

It will be dreamtime for Chase and isn’t that what being a sports fan is all about?  Sports can make dreams come true and the magical relationship between Chase Adler and the New York Riptide is a perfect example of that.

About the Author

Peter Schwartz

Peter Schwartz is a contributor covering the Islanders for NY Sports Day while also writing about general sports in the New York/New Jersey area. In addition to his column, Peter also hosts his “Schwartz On Sports” podcast as he interviews players, coaches, and other sports personalities. He is also currently a sports anchor for WFAN Radio, CBS Sports Radio, and WCBS 880 radio while also serving as the public address announcer for the New York Cosmos soccer club.

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