TAMPA — Becky McKeen has stuck with one tried and true tradition for the past month and a half. Even a run to the airport didn’t change things when the Lightning needed her.
Tampa Bay led its second-round playoff series against the Florida Panthers 1-0, but Game 2 was tied at 1 in the third period.
McKeen was en route to pick up her daughter, Grace, at Tampa International Airport. On the way home, she asked her husband, Barry, to make a quick pit stop at Amalie Arena. It was time to work her particular brand of magic.
When McKeen is standing outside a bathroom, the Lightning score. So with only two minutes remaining, McKeen made her way over to the Porta Potty stalls on the back side of Thunder Alley.
With 3.8 seconds remaining, Ross Colton found the back of the net to give the Lightning a 2-1 win.
“I videotaped it, because I wanted everyone to know this was legit,” said McKeen, 49, of Tampa.
On a Lightning fan Facebook page, McKeen is known as “Bathroom Becky.” Fans will visit her outside of the women’s restroom near Section 106 at Amalie to pose for a selfie and thank her for her service.
She has received personalized gifts such as “Bathroom Becky” T-shirts (which she planned to wear under her Lightning jersey during the Stanley Cup final), a keychain and a blue Yeti cup with the decal “#BathroomBecky” under the Lightning logo. Some fans have offered her an adult beverage or two during games.
Since restarting the tradition, McKeen is undefeated (7-0) at Lightning home games.
“It’s just become this hilarious thing that just went crazy,” she said.
The tradition started about four or five years ago when McKeen discovered the Lightning often would score when she was in the bathroom. She hadn’t intentionally used the trick in a while, but that changed when the Lightning trailed the Maple Leafs 2-1 in the opening-round series.
Standing under the “Women” sign outside of the restroom near Section 106, she watches the games on a set of raised televisions in the main corridor. She’ll hear the goal horn and crowd celebrations from the main bowl before the play appears on the delayed taping.
On Mother’s Day, Steven Stamkos scored the opening goal of Game 4 within a minute of McKeen leaving her seat in the lower bowl. The team went on to score another two before the end of the first period. McKeen stayed until the team had a 5-0 lead (it went on to win 7-3) before returning to her seat to a parade of high-fives from people in her section.
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When the Lightning played Game 7, McKeen, an administrator at Grace Christian School, was chaperoning the school’s prom at Le Meridien Tampa. With encouragement from her students, she went to find the women’s room at the hotel. One minute later, Nick Paul scored the winner. Her students started dancing.
“I believe in God and I’m not, like, super weird, but as they say in The Office, I am a little ‘stitious,’” McKeen said. “I mean, you’ve got to admit this is just kind of weird.”
For Game 5 of the Eastern Conference final against the Rangers, McKeen and her family couldn’t get tickets to the watch party at Amalie Arena, so they watched the game inside the lobby of the JW Marriott Hotel behind Thunder Alley. With the score tied at 1 at the end of the second period, McKeen tried Amalie again.
She approached one of the arena’s staffers outside, telling her, “I know this is going to sound crazy, but there’s only one period left and I was wondering if I could come sit in the bathroom?” The attendant didn’t recognize McKeen or her story, so she went to get her supervisor.
“Wait, I think I’ve heard about you,” McKeen recalled the supervisor telling her before going to get her a paper ticket. “All right, go stand in the bathroom.”
McKeen made it just in time for Ondrej Palat to score the winner, with Brandon Hagel adding an empty-net goal 51 seconds later for the 3-1 win.
McKeen wasn’t taking any chances for Game 6, so she stood outside the bathroom for the entirety of the Lightning’s 2-1 win. At one point, guest services offered her a chair. When McKeen — who coached basketball for 30 years and never sat on the bench — politely declined, they brought her some cupcakes instead.
Now with the Lightning in the Stanley Cup final against the Avalanche, McKeen plans to remain outside of the bathroom for the entirety of the home games. Since the series started in Denver, she was not at Amalie for Tampa Bay’s 4-3 loss Wednesday in Game 1.
“If it put a smile on your face and it made you giggle, then it’s worth it,” McKeen said, “because life’s just too short to be serious all the time.”
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