Teacher's Pet

Shelley Stevenson loves being a schoolteacher. She also loves the Thunder.

And she has figured out how to combine the two.

Shelley’s elementary school classroom in Oklahoma City is adorned with the trappings of her team pride: T-shirts, posters, even Thunder-blue curtains with a decorative basketball pattern.

But that’s just the easy part. The veteran teacher also interweaves Thunder principles into her instruction.

“I talk to [my students] about the Thunder and how the team had a rough first year, were young and not as experienced as other teams -- but they knew who they were. They worked together,” Shelley said.

“One person's weakness was another one's strength and vice versa. They would ‘Rise Together,’ and through this they became who they always knew they were.

“Then I apply this to my kids. We talk about how they are young. At times, they might not understand the assignments or projects we're working on. They may feel weak. But I match my students with partners that I believe will be each other's strength in their weakness, and vice versa. Then I teach them that the way they will be able to achieve their best is through ‘rising together.’

“It's not all about furthering yourself, but about pulling the other guy up with you.”

Shelley’s Thunder obsession doesn’t stop at the end of the school day. That’s when she hops into her Thunder-blue Hyundai Sonata (“a happy coincidence,” she admits) and to her home, which proudly displays a big Thunder flag in the front.

As for game nights?

“As a single-mom, teacher and after-care director, I am being pulled in many directions all day long,” Shelley said. “My time at the ballgames is my alone time.”

Well, as alone as it can be with some 18,000 cheering, rambunctious fans.

“I don't think words can adequately describe the experience of standing at my seat during the playoff games, and hearing and watching our crowd show the love and support that we have for this team,” recalled Shelley.

“I don't think there is a match for this experience anywhere in the NBA. I think we, as fans, have a really strong connection to our players, and so feel the highs and lows of the game very strongly.

“It’s the mix of being part of something large, the competitive spirit, humility, and huge talent that the players have -- and then the fire that's in their gut. This all culminates into making me a loyal fan.”

Loyal fans of all sorts can be found at THUNDERALLY, an online, interactive community for the Thunder faithful.

Phil Bacharach is the Director of Corporate Communications for the Thunder. He is looking for die-hard Thunder fans throughout the world. If you or somebody you know bleeds Thunder blue, contact Phil by clicking here