You all remember Curt Schilling, right? Former major leaguer…bloody sock’d his way into being the 2004 World Series hero…was an avid gamer, and so he parlayed that blind love into defrauding an entire state and running his gaming company into the ground in spectacular fashion…yadda yadda. Remember?
Anyways, he’s now major league broke, and like anyone who could use a few bucks, he’s selling stuff he’s no longer using. Like his mansion, all his furniture, and just about everything he has ever owned. Want Curt Schilling’s Christmas tree stand? IT’S YOURS. Want the Pottery Barn bed his kid slept in? DONE. But of more interest to use are two items in particular, thanks to the keen eye of my buddy Jeff: his Bambini 100 ice resurfacer and his Craftsman Ice Mower.
Both the Ice Mower as well as the Bambini line of resurfacers (as seen here) are built and sold by a small Vermont company owned by Damien Renzello. The 100-gallon Bambini that Schilling is selling retails for around $1100, and is designed to be filled and then towed (by lawn tractor) around your rink. The ride-on Ice Mower (essentially a modified lawn tractor) retails for north of $3000. I’ve never seen or tried either, but they’re admittedly pretty cool looking.
But most interestingly (to me and probably nobody else), this means Schilling has a backyard rink
. Or, I suppose, HAD a backyard rink. And it’s not often that it comes to light that your local World-Series-hero-turned-sad-face drops down a liner and prays for cold like the rest of us. I wanted to know more, so I dug around a bit.
This page has a number of images of the palatial house that Schilling is selling. Aside from the standard $2.9M home offerings like a pool, a theater room, and a beach volleyball court, alas, the home does boast a backyard rink.
The rink appears to use full boards and seems to be quite long and narrow — 50′x100′, maybe? Perhaps even narrower? Overhead satellite images don’t appear to capture the rink at all, so from my research, the image above is all we have. You can see basketball hoops in the background, indicating a sport court is the base layer, and some large triangular outriggers on the far left. Is it refrigerated? Who built it for him? Did he DIY? Are the boards recycled indoor boards (which they appear to be), or did he use a backyard-specific vendor, like our friends up at Center Ice Rinks?
If you’re in the New England area, you can likely have a couple of these questions answered on Saturday, October 12th. That’s when the estate sale is planned (details here). And while it does not appear he’s selling his rink boards separately, it will be interesting to see how much a used Ice Mower or Bambini resurfacer go for. Particularly since they were owned by such a unique and polarizing celebrity.
Do you have any info on the Schilling rink? Comment below.
Our buddy Scott Crowder, who runs the New England and Lake Champlain Pond Hockey Classics, is taking his gear and heading west, as you already know. To whet the appetite of the pond-hockey-starved Montana locals, he and our friends at On Frozen Ponds produced this promo video. I’m about 2600 miles due east of Kalispell, and this thing has me ready for winter right now. It’s coming soon!
When I pass away, nowhere in my obituary will it say “great student”. It wasn’t that I couldn’t put the work in — no, most often it’s that I just wouldn’t put the work in. I’d amble from one class to the next, one year to the next, doing just enough to get by, my ambition and motivation always just a few strides behind my potential.
January of 1998 marked the start of my last semester at West High. Doing “just enough” for the previous three-plus years meant I could surf into graduation, enjoying the spoils of senioritis along the way. I was co-captain of our school hockey team and 95% of my focus and energy was on upcoming games and practices, the school day serving as little more than a social gathering and a place to eat lunch.
Then I stepped foot inside Joe Sullivan’s Creative Writing classroom.
From day one, his class was different. Bolstered by decades of experience and untethered by first-day jitters, he bounced around the room with a refreshing energy. While some teachers seem about as thrilled to be there as their students, Mr Sullivan exploded with the excitement of an uncaged rabbit.
Creative Writing sounded daunting, particularly to someone who had done precious little of it the prior 12 years, but he made it simple. Each week we were to write a paper on a predefined topic of his choice. It was due on Monday, and if you didn’t submit it on time, you got an F on the paper. No extensions. No late work. One missed paper meant got you a C for the semester, two meant summer school. And not that simply turning in the paper netted you an A — he was a very difficult grader. He taught every senior in our 2000-student school, and yet he gave so few A‘s that twice a year he’d take his students who received one out to breakfast as a reward. There were rarely more than a dozen attendees.
His classes were an event. He had no other homework. No handouts, no busy work, no structure. We’d shuffle into class, find a desk, and for 45 minutes, we’d listen. We’d listen to stories about his wife and kids, or about a little league team he’d coached. We’d listen to him talk about how erasing the blackboard was his most important job, because if a portion of a letter was left behind, the “squiggle” would be distracting to the students. After weekend hockey games, he’d chastise me for an elbowing penalty I got, and I’d argue that I got him cleanly with my shoulder. He was funny and sincere, honest and intelligent — a master storyteller. His 45 minutes were the shortest of my day.
He’d inject lessons into his stories the same way a mother blends carrots into a dessert. In between hilarious stories of college football road trips I’d come to understand the importance of a story’s opening sentence. While he went on and on about Dorothy Parker, the 20th century writer and poet, we’d come away understanding how to keep our writing short and succinct. And while we once spent an entire class weighing the risks of jumping off a local trestle into the Piscataquog River, I discovered how much he abhorred cliches.
I worked hard on my first story and turned it in with trepidation. A day later, I got it back covered in red pen. My heart sank. But as I read, I realized that he included as many words of praise as he did corrections. Like blended carrots, his red pen markings were the perfect mix of sweet and sour, of correction and motivation.
It got better from there. “You are a WRITER!” he scrawled in red at the bottom of my next paper. My confidence soared. “The teachers in the break room LOVED this one,” he wrote on another. Late in the semester he read my paper, in which we were supposed to write in a humorous tone, aloud to the entire class. I sat in my back-corner seat, red and embarrassed and completely exposed among my classmates, yet internally I beamed that he thought enough of my words to read them out loud. Each week I craved his feedback and devoured his margin commentary.
I spent every day for five months listening to hilarious stories of West Manchester and Boston College football and driver’s ed and how to properly erase a blackboard, and along the way a side of me had been awoken that I wasn’t aware had been asleep. I became a WRITER. He saw something in me that I didn’t have the courage to see, and it changed how I perceived myself, even to this day. A decade before Jack Falla taught me that it was OK to write about my hockey passion, Joe Sullivan taught me it was OK to write, and perhaps more importantly, he gave me the confidence to share what I wrote with others. As similar as Jack and Joe were, it’s only appropriate that they’re perhaps the two people most responsible for this website existing today.
I found out about Joe’s death the same way I found out about Jack’s – in an email. It’s a fitting jab to a man who much preferred an old-fashioned hand-written letter to a newfangled electronic mail message, a final nod to the type of person they just don’t seem to make anymore using a means of communication that’s now the cultural norm.
“Did you hear about Joe Sullivan?“, the email from my wife said. The words ricocheted through my body. I knew right away and responded with a four-letter word. The man taught me everything I know about writing, and yet my gut instinct to the news of his passing was the f-word. I’d like to think he’d give me credit for an attention-grabbing opening sentence.
A week before my high school graduation, a handful of us joined him for breakfast at Belmont Hall. We talked about Nomar and the Red Sox and our college plans. Before we all left for school, he gave each of us a pencil and a notepad, as symbolic as it was functional. “Keep writing,” it said on the cover.
I have. And because of you, Mr Sullivan, I always will.
People who have pools are used to adding several inches of water every few weeks to keep the pool water level constant. In the peak of summer, you can lose over 1/4″ of water to evaporation daily. Does the same logic apply to backyard ice rinks in the winter? Does the water in my rink evaporate? What happened to my ice rink water level?
While working towards my engineering masters degree at the University of Illinois, I had coursework focused on thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, and heat transfer. The underlying science to what I am about to share, with respect to backyard rinks, is founded in that subject matter. I promise to keep this simple and hopefully, my advice can help you prevent water loss for your rink this upcoming season.
Natural water loss due to evaporation does occur in the winter, but it is minimal compared to the summer months. In Chicago or Toronto, for example, winter evaporation averages less than 0.03 inches per day. Let’s put that in perspective. It will take standing water 10 days to lose a bit more than ¼”. That is quite significant when you consider that rinks may have as little as 3” inches of water. The good news is that when that the top layer of water becomes ice, the ice acts as a lid and helps prevent evaporation. The water underneath your ice is like water in a closed jar. It has no way out for evaporation. Furthermore, there is also a very rare circumstance of air temperature and pressure where ice skips the water phase and jumps directly to vapor. This process is called sublimation. Sublimation is a near non-factor for ice volume loss. The moral of this story is very simple. PRACTICE PATIENCE! Wait until it is cold enough outside for water to freeze before you fill your rink!
Once your rink is filled and you have ice, you are likely doing regular maintenance to your rink. With maintenance/resurfacing you are likely gaining water, not losing it. If you consider a 30′ by 50′ rink, a 30 gallon coating with the Iron Sleek Resurfacer or just 6 minutes evenly sprinkled from your hose will more than make up for 0.03 of an inch loss. Basic rink maintenance is enough to keep your water levels from dropping.
Here is the truth about your water level problem. It’s not evaporation! You probably have some small leaks around your rink. Small leaks are not necessarily the end of your season or the end of your backyard rink. They are simply a nuisance and a frustration which equate to more maintenance and more work to keep healthy ice. When it comes to small leaks in liners, the best intervention is prevention. Take your time before putting out your liner or tarp to make sure that you have removed all of the stones and pointy twigs from your rink. Check your rink boards thoroughly to insure there is nothing pointy that could contribute to small leaks by creating tiny holes.
The most common place where people forget to protect their liner is at the board bottom where the liner, the land, and the board meet. Since the board edges can be especially sharp, you should mound some topsoil or sand against the bottom corners to protect the liner. Iron Sleek offers Ice Rink Base Cove, which is designed to protect your liner from the bottom, where the water pressure is the highest and the boards are sharpest. The base cove will also prevent the liner from ballooning under the boards. Base cove fully replaces the “mounding” exercise and better protects your rink. Take it from the pool industry professionals who use wedge shaped foam at the pool bases for even the toughest of liners at 25 mil. Even if the board looks snug onto the grass, people will still run into the boards, pucks will be blasted and heavy adults will sit on the rink boards; the boards will move. Prevent leaks by a thorough inspection of your land, inspection of your sideboards, and by taking the proper measures with your board bottoms with either sand, top soil, or the innovative Iron Sleek Ice Rink Base Cove.
The mystery is solved! Why am I losing water? It is not evaporation or sublimation. You have leaks. The best way to fix tiny leaks is to avoid them. Consider taking some of the measures described to prevent liner leaks. Good luck and let’s hope for a cold winter.
See you on the backyard ice!
Backyard-Hockey.com, circa March 2010
I started this site in the fall of 2008 to catalog my little backyard rink. Five years and several hundred thousand visitors later, it’s one of the most visit purist hockey sites on the web, home to backyard rink how-to’s and the most comprehensive pond hockey tournament listing around. Each fall, our pages explode with readers hoping to get outdoors and skate under the open sky with their friends and families, and to think we’ve had a small hand in that is immensely gratifying.
But we’re only just getting started.
Beginning today, we’re opening the back end of our site and taking applications to become a site contributor. Despite some wonderful guest posts over the years, and buoyed by support and help from friends and readers, this site is limited in content to what I am familiar with. All the product reviews, the how-to’s, the hockey experiences…most of what you read on this site comes from me. I don’t mention this to gloat — it’s actually quite the opposite: there’s so much more out there that I don’t know, that I am not familiar with, and if I want Backyard-Hockey.com to be the biggest and best hockey purist site in the world, I need to tap into the community at large.
In essence, I need your help.
I want our readers to know which products you’re using on your rinks. I want our readers to know which pond hockey tourneys you’re going to and how much fun you had on the car ride and at the hotel between games. I want them to know about how your child’s youth hockey experience helped him in school, and how he met an NHLer that one time at a restaurant and still has the signed napkin on his wall. I want them to know how YOU build YOUR rink, and how you implement all the little tips and tricks that I’ve never thought of.
I want you and your experiences to usher in the next generation of Backyard-Hockey.com. I want the hockey world to read and share posts that you write.
I tried to anticipate the questions some of you might have. Those are posted in the new Contributor FAQ page. I expect I’ll be adding to that as we move forward.
For those of you ready to put pen to pad (or fingers to keys), we have a specific Contributor Sign-Up page. Once you submit a writing sample, we’ll create your user account and you can begin adding content right away.
Once your account is created, there is no obligation to write or schedule to adhere to. We’ll be here when you’re ready to share a little bit of your outdoor hockey self with the world. So please consider signing up and help give back to the grassroots hockey community by sharing what you know and love about the game. Let’s take this community we’ve built to the next level, and ensure that even more people experience the outdoor game in the process.