By: Franklin Heinzmann
BUFFALO, N.Y. – Imagine leaving class one afternoon and driving home. Then hopping in the car with your parents, heading to the KeyBank Center, getting escorted through the bowels of the arena, and singing the national anthem in front of about 19,000 screaming fans.
This is a day in the life of sophomore Anna Heerdt. Heerdt is in the middle of her fourth season singing the Canadian and American National Anthems for the Buffalo Sabres. She also sings the anthems for the Buffalo Bisons, NU, and the University at Buffalo.
Heerdt has a very rich music background. Her love for singing dates back to third grade, when she signed up to be in her school’s musical. From there on, Heerdt never looked back. She has starred, and lead roles, in over 20 shows throughout her time in high school and through In Good Company Productions (IGC) of Tonawanda N.Y.. Heerdt credits IGC for the seamless transition into signing the anthem.
“[IGC] was so much fun,” Heerdt said. “I made a lot of friends through that. I like the environment in the musical world. That’s more where my focus was, musicals and theatre.”
Despite coming from a musical background, Heerdt doesn’t feel out of place in the world of sports. She is an avid Sabres fan and so is her family.
“My Dad has always played hockey, and that whole side of my family is into hockey. We all watch the games. I like to keep track of it. This year, I’m trying to follow [the Sabres] with everything that’s going on.”
Singing the national anthem does have its obstacles. From singing without the aide of an organ, to dealing with diehard Doug Allen fans throwing her off her game, she still pumps up the crowd.
“Every once and a while I’ll sing a little higher if it’s a big game, like during the preseason game I sang at [against the Toronto Maple Leafs] because that gets the fans riled up …. The crowd motivates me. When there’s not a lot of people there it’s not as interesting, and not as fun to sing.”
Overall singing the national anthem for the Sabres, amongst other local sports teams, has been a humbling experience for Heerdt. She has developed a respect for all of the intricacies that go into singing the national anthem, and has built up a favorable reputation in the process.
“I have so much more respect for the songs and for the Buffalo Sabres in general … my Dad and I used to argue all the time because I didn’t want to sing. I was like ‘I don’t want to do it, I don’t want to be known as the anthem girl.’ But now, I love it. It’s something I like to do, and that’s how people know me.”