I guess when you are starting a project like this (the blog, not the rink) you should probably start with the 5 "W" questions: Who, What, Where, When, and Why?
The How will come later in many different ways - hence, the Evolution of My Rink.
We can skip the 'Who' for now - as that will become evident throughout the posts - but if you hadn't guessed - it's me. With that out of the way, we can skip to the 'What' and 'Where': well, it's a Backyard Rink and it wouldn't be a Backyard Rink if it wasn't in my backyard. We live in a small village just south of Ottawa where the weather is constantly changing, which makes having a backyard rink very trying at times. I was asked once what the most important tools are for building a rink: my answer - heart and patience. If you don't love what you are doing and have a world of patience, you will more than likely fail. (It's kind of like raising a puppy - or children I guess)
When? Well, I just spent some time trying to find pictures of when I started the rink project, but only found photographic evidence from the 2002-2003 season. I know it was started before that and I found some measurements written on my garage wall from 2001-2002. I know you are asking yourself, "Why the hell is it written on his garage wall?" This I cannot answer - but if you knew me, it probably wouldn't shock you.
Now the 'Why' - there are so many answers to this question, so I'll start 'in the beginning'. I'm going to guess that I have been on skates since I was either 3 or 4 years old - that's 38 years on skates for those doing the math. I was in minor hockey (along with my 2 brothers, my sister was stuck in figure skating) - in the rink several times a week - and when we weren't in the rink and weather permitted, we would sling the stick over our shoulders with the blade through the skates and haul our butts through 'the pasture', down the path in the woods and skate on 'the pond'. It wasn't much of a pond - probably 20' around - but to us it was the best rink ever. We used our boots as posts and we skated for hours - until dark - when we knew we had to get back home.
I played competitive hockey until I was 16 - at which point, I made my Midget team as a defenseman but I was small - REALLY small. Everyone else seemed to have a growing spurt that summer except me. In the first period of one of the first games of the season, I got crushed in the corner. (Pretty sure that was one of my first concussions) All I remember is skating back to the bench, looking at my dad in the stands (concern on his face) and I looked at him and mouthed, "Dad, I'm done. I can't do this." I played the rest of that game but my dad and I had a long discussion about calling it quits on the drive home. That was the last time I played 'competitive' hockey. I took a couple of seasons off - focused more on school and went to university. At university, I started getting back into sports via intramurals and someone asked me to play hockey with them. 'Sure! What the heck?!' So I dusted off the equipment and played - and damn it, I realized what I had been missing for those years.'
After graduating from university, I moved to Ottawa to continue my schooling and hopefully start a career. Needless to say, I met some people, ended up on some hockey teams and I have been playing Men's League ever since. In 1996, I married my beautiful (and patient and understanding and ...) wife. We moved around - ended up in Kingston, ON for a year or two where I started playing hockey 6 times a week - it was great, we had access to a rink (at the college I worked) every day at lunch hour for free pickup. It was awesome!
In 1999, my ever-changing career path led me back to the Ottawa area and we found our current house. A nice bungalow on 2/3 of an acre - with the greatest backyard ever! Later that year, my wife informed me that she was expecting As the pregnancy progressed, my wife told me, "I'm pretty sure the baby is going to be 'your boy'". At that point, the mind starts racing, you know that backyard looks like it might be a great place for a backyard rink.
And there you have it, the idea was planted. My love for skating/hockey fertilized the seed. The idea of having my kid(s) learn how to skate in their own backyard - amazing.
Up next: 'Year 1: Surprise'.