DENVER (CBS4) - One of the most consistent pieces of the Colorado Avalanche franchise won't be taking part in the Stanley Cup Final. Legendary National Anthem singer Jake Schroeder has performed in front of the Avalanche crowd more than 1,000 times, but as an historic season comes to a close, Schroeder is in France.
"The people that go to those games have treated me so well and are so kind. It's just, I think that's what I'm going to miss the most is people are so nice," Schroeder said last week before leaving for his new job leading a non-profit.
Singing the National Anthem started out as a hobby in 1985 when Schroeder first sang before a Denver Nuggets game. He's performed before at the beginning of many events for nearly 40 years. It was in the late 90s when he became a constant before Avs games. A song that has created a remarkable bond between him and his late father.
"The first year I think I missed a few more than normal and then after that I was pretty much doing all but one or two a year. and there were some years in there we didn't miss any," he says. "It's kind of crazy thinking how many years that is looking back."
In November, Schroeder was honored after his 1,000th performance. A job that paid nothing but was a hobby he wouldn't pass up.
"You get two seats for the game and that was just a thrill to go to the game. The Stanley Cup run in 2001 was pretty cool because a lot of those guys were my contemporaries, they were my age," Schroeder said. "Just those regular season (Red) Wings-Avs games. You'd get up at 6 and be geeked up for the game at 1 p.m."
As the Avalanche team reaches the first Stanley Cup Final in decades, Schroeder won't be taking the ice to sing. As the team he loves could write a fairy tale ending, he couldn't delay the start in the next chapter of his life.
"I've run my course and I'm proud of it," Schroeder said.
He's now running the D-Day Leadership Academy, an organization dedicated to taking students to Normandy, France for an immersive experience in sacrifice, honor and leadership.
"Traveling and seeing very different cultures is really, really good for everybody," he said. "I really want to make as big a difference in the world as I can."
While the timing didn't work out for Schroeder to watch the Avs finish their mission, he knows he's made the right choice without regret.
"All of it's a gift. It's really truly an incredible blessing for me to do this as long as I have. and it's been so fun, to be there and be a part of it," he said.
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