Originally posted by WTSP reporter Bobby Lewis on May 7:
Imagine how much you would have to love a song to sing every day of your life. For one Tampa Bay Lightning fan, singing is not just a hobby, it’s a duty.
U.S. Air Force Technical Sergeant Sonya Bryson has been stationed at MacDill Air Force Base for the last four years and has been singing the national anthem before Lightning home games since shortly after arriving in Tampa. She sings “The Star-Spangled Banner” every day while driving in to work.
The anthem is her passion.
“Every time I perform the national anthem, I don’t want people to hear it, I want people to feel it,” she said.
It’s her job to set the stage for the team. As often as she can make it, she sings for Lightning home games. The only reason she misses is if her Air Force duties keep her away from the ice.
“I love the song. I love what it represents,” she says. “It helps you remember who you are.”
The players have noticed her passion for the anthem.
“You know, MacDill AFB being so close to us and having her come out, I think the crowd enjoys it,” said forward Ryan Callahan. “It’s special for the team, too. We really enjoy it.”
Bryson, who has performed the national anthem in public more than 1,000 times, and even once for President Barack Obama, will retire from active duty on Sept. 1 after two decades of service. The team is 5-2 at home in these playoffs. She hopes they keep winning so she can keep singing.
“If you ever see me singing it, people say, ‘I see tears in your eyes.’ I fight tears every single time,” she said.