Nino Niederreiter of the New York Islanders. (Jan. 10, 2012)

Nino Niederreiter of the New York Islanders. (Jan. 10, 2012) Credit: Jim McIsaac

Driving through East Meadow recently, I noticed a car's back window filled with souvenirs of local sports teams.

Fuzzy dice promoted the New York Jets. Teddy bears wore the logo of the New York Mets. Decals reflected the glory of the New York Islanders.

It was a simple shelf of items on an older, nondescript vehicle, but it spoke volumes about the ferocity of fan loyalty.

I, too, am a fan of those three teams -- none of which has had a championship in more than a generation.

I grew up in North Flushing and will never be mistaken for a Yankees fan. My dad didn't have a preference, but living only a few minutes from Shea Stadium, I was weaned on the Mets. My older brother collected Topps baseball cards that commemorated the 1969 championship, storing them safely in my mother's china closet.

As time passed, some in my family officially declared devotion to the Yankees. My mom learned the game late in life and began to watch them as they piled up titles under Joe Torre. My brother moved 2,500 miles to a city with an average baseball team and held on to a New York winner, again the Yankees. My husband and I were utterly alone to expose our two Little Leaguers to a legacy of non-playoff seasons that is the Mets history post-2006.

My football fandom began in 1969, watching a daytime Super Bowl and reading the next day's headlines about the heroics of Broadway Joe Namath. Now, as a Long Island resident, I am reminded that the Jets no longer practice at Hofstra University, thus no positive impact on the community or Nassau County's economy.

Consciously or subconsciously my 16-year-old son never appreciated the Jets' chaos -- now concerning Mark Sanchez, Tim Tebow and Rex Ryan. He is a Philadelphia Eagles fan. And we never watched the team on HBO's "Hard Knocks," so we didn't feel too left out of the locker room drama.

But the New York Islanders are different.

When we moved to Long Island in 1995, I could define our place on the South Shore as being near the home of the Isles. There has always been a Scout trip, youth group outing or child's birthday party that would get me to the Nassau Coliseum and an exciting hockey game. Even in all of these lean, non-playoff years, I've seen a few good wins that gave me lessons in "exiting the parking lot honking." Thanks to my teenagers, I now am an expert in hitting the car horn to the rhythm of "Let's go Islanders!"

But loyalty has its greatest test when you're required to endure a long-distance romance. So much for devotion, as the boys in blue and orange, after the 2014-15 season, will move to Brooklyn -- even farther away than Citi Field.

So here I am, rooting for a losing baseball team, a football team always in turmoil, and a departing hockey team that -- thanks to the NHL labor dispute -- might never hit the ice this season. It's a thankless job, but somehow, I've simply got to do it.