Life doesn’t always take the route you expected. Unanticipated opportunities and bumps in the road add twists to previously straight highways into the future. But amid changed plans is the possibility to thrive where you’ve been placed.
Just ask Doug Allen. At one time, he dreamed of success on the stage. Now, he follows two passions, singing the National Anthem for NHL Buffalo Sabers games at night and serving at the Buffalo City Mission during the day. He deeply enjoys and is passionate about both roles.
Nighttime at the First Niagara Center finds Doug Allen dressed in a tux, singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” before each Buffalo Sabers hockey game. He’s been doing this since 1992 and became the main anthem singer in 2005. The ecstatic fans know him for his amazing voice and the way he glides across the ice, pointing toward them every time he sings, “land of the free and the home of the brave.”
To those in the stands, he’s a celebrity. He’s performed at their weddings and birthday parties and posed countless times for their cameras. (He’s even been featured as a cake topper for one fan’s son!) Few of these star-struck fans know of or could even imagine the completely different and humbling role he assumes when he’s not singing at the rink.
During the day, Allen is the facilities coordinator at the City Mission. He melts ice, checks lights, and tackles things that need fixing. It’s not the glamour he looked forward to as a recent graduate with a degree in music education from Houghton College over 20 years ago. In fact, it started out as a job he worked while pursuing a master’s degree. But it’s been somewhere he’s been able to serve for over two decades.
Why doesn’t Allen try to push for more success if he has the voice for it? The answer lies in the dedication he has to following God’s leading. If God has placed him as “the Anthem Guy” and a “maintenance man,” Allen is going to give these jobs his all.
Allen hasn’t let disappointment from his earlier dream hold him back. Instead, with his humility, music-making abilities, and care for others, he’s forged a new kind of adventure.