Photos: Caleb Herbert Fan Club
While 23-year-old center Caleb Herbert has a long road to the NHL in front of him, he has something that other higher-rated Caps prospects in the system don’t: a burgeoning fan club!
Tuesday, three college-aged girls emblazoned in amazing, handmade puffy-paint shirts, made the journey to Kettler Capitals Iceplex to watch the first day of Development Camp. They had one goal in mind: to get a photo with the man they call Herbie.
“We really like to support Caps prospects and we met Herbert at last year’s Development Camp,” explained Juliana Lefort, one of the founding members of the group. “He was really nice to us so from there we followed him to whatever team he was with and always supported him.
“Giving him the fan support can go a long way,” Lefort concluded.
Indeed it did. Herbert, drafted by the Capitals in the fifth round of the 2010 draft, was signed to a two-year entry-level contract in March 2014 after completing his junior season with University of Minnesota-Duluth. Known as a finisher, the six-foot, 195-pound Herbert spent the majority of his first full professional season in the ECHL, scoring 19 goals and tallying 28 points in 42 games with the South Carolina Stingrays. He also played 12 games in the AHL with the Hershey Bears.
Herbert’s best moment came in November when the center had a hat trick in South Carolina’s 4-2 win over Greenville. In a physics-defying play, Herbert’s hat trick goal went through the mesh netting and the video of it went viral.
A few months before, one of the girls tweeted, “Team Herbie For Life” to the prospect. A few hours later, he favorited it.
From there, Melissa DeiTos, Caitlyn Kirby, and Lefort decided to make a fan club for him on Twitter.
Naming their handle @herbertislife, the girls tweeted and retweeted anything Herbert related. They also created the hashtag #VerifyHerbert, trying to inspire the social media giant to give Herbie the elusive light blue checkmark by his name that most pro athletes have.
Eventually the girls chatted with Herbert himself. Originally thinking they were making fun of him, Herbert learned that they were actually kind fans really rooting for him.
During Christmas, Herbert found his own way to give back. The girls had signed up for Shnarped, an app that connects hockey players with their fans. The trio participated in the app’s #HockeyWishList, explaining that their dream Christmas gift was a game-used, signed Herbert stick. Herbert and Shnarped granted that wish.
While the fan club has clearly benefitted Herbert, it’s also done wonders for the girls.
“All three of us actually met last year at Development Camp for the first time,” Lefort said. “We have all been best friends ever since. We even went to the Winter Classic and other Capitals games together last season.”
On Tuesday, as the girls had their shirts signed and got a group photo with their relatively-unknown hero, they couldn’t help but let out big smiles. Sure, Kettler was deserted, but that tiny moment felt big to them. Herbert now has three fans for life, regardless if he ever makes the NHL. And if he does, these three will be driving the bandwagon.
Special Note: I’m told the Herbert Fan Club IS accepting new members. To do so, follow them on Twitter @herbertislife and use the #VerifyHerbert hashtag. They also ask that you support Herbert by following him @GuyHeyber21.
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