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Wis. hockey coach builds backyard rink

  • Article by: CHRIS JONES
  • Associated Press
  • December 28, 2013 - 12:05 AM

PLOVER, Wis. — University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point men's hockey coach Chris Brooks is from Canada, where hockey is a religion, and he has raised two kids who also spend much of their lives on skates.

So when the kids both won positions on local hockey teams, he wanted to do something special for them to give them a leg up on the competition. And that meant that all the trees in the backyard had to go.

What took their place is a miniature hockey rink complete with two goals and two "B'' markers representing Brooks' last name.

Brooks has been surrounded by the game of hockey for most of his life starting in Ontario, Canada, where he grew up. He eventually went to college at Western Michigan University, where he played hockey and coached. He followed his coaching job at WMU with a professional hockey-coaching job in Texas before coming to UWSP three years ago.

Although hockey is very important to Brooks, his kids, Bryar and Barrett, are the most important. With that in mind, he decided to build the rink in his Plover backyard so the two could practice and play with friends.

Both Bryar, 14, and Barrett, 12, play hockey in Stevens Point. Bryar is a freshman at Stevens Point Area Senior High, and Barrett attends Roosevelt I.D.E.A. School and plays in a youth hockey league.

Brooks said the rink cost him about $200 plus labor to build.

"My kids like to skate, and growing up in Canada, our yards were always too small and neighborhood kids never had big enough yards to do it," he said. "We've got a big enough yard (now)."

Brooks was able to build his own 23-by-46-foot rink —a regulation NHL sheet of ice is 85-by-200-feet —using a massive tarp to hold and freeze water, several boards to box in the tarp and a bucket of paint.

"My (son) had the idea that he wanted to make it look like a rink, so we measured it off, we put the red line and two blue lines in, and then he wanted dots like on a big rink, but I wasn't going to mess it up, so we just put our last-name initial on each end," he said.

Brooks said the rink probably will last until February before he takes it down for the year. But until then, his daughter plans on using it as much as possible, especially as the SPASH hockey season is in full swing.

"It might be strange to some other people, but I don't think it's that strange," she said. "(I like) just being able to come out here and just practice."

Bryar said she helps maintain the rink by clearing it off when it snows or flooding the rink by covering it with water that will freeze and give it a fresh surface.

An AP Member Exchange Feature shared by Stevens Point Journal Media

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