It was one year ago today that I set up this website on the backyard-hockey.com domain and transferred what little content I had already written onto this new space. I had no idea what this site would become, or what I wanted it to be — I just knew that its creation had helped renew a fire for the game that had been sparked by my backyard rink, and I wanted to share my ideas, experiences, and growing knowledge with the world. We had 300 views that first month, and I remember saying “Wow, 10 people a day are reading my stuff.” Eleven months and 100 posts later, January saw 27,100 views. By the time you read this, more than 80,000 people will have visited.
It blows my mind.
We’ve written about backyard rinks, pond hockey, bubble hockey, and street hockey. We’re a sponsor for a premiere pond hockey tournament. We have t-shirts, hoodies, and magnets. MAGNETS! We’ve been linked to by Puck Daddy a half dozen times. We’ve been interviewed for newspaper articles and we’ve been plagiarized. 13,000 people have visited our Pond Hockey Tournament Listing, and 9,000 have come here to learn how to build a homeboni.
A huge thank you to the people who have been around since the beginning, and who helped with ideas, logistics, or whose comments and emails simply made me aware that people were reading (Sandra, Steve, Scott, and Len). Thank you to the hockey-world friends I’ve made along the way (Ben and Alex, most notably) — the passion you have for this game and your businesses is contagious, and I appreciate your ever-present encouragement. Thank you to everyone who has ever read, commented on, emailed about, tweeted, facebook’d, or linked to something we’ve written. That someone shows up on this site is what keeps it going. Thank you to Jack Falla and the members of the backyard rink group, whose tremendous knowledge base and willingness to share it helped kick-start this journey nearly three seasons ago. And thank you to my wife and son — the former for her tolerance of this website even when it meant I stayed up later than she did, and the latter for just being a wonderful little forty-pound reminder of why life is so great.
I don’t know how many of you have read it, but in our “About” section, I say that our primary mission is to grow the game of hockey by speaking freely of our passion, our experiences, and our love for the game.
I know that this little website won’t materially influence the enrollment numbers for youth hockey programs. And it’s highly unlikely that the children of any of our readers will make it to the NHL, or even play high-level college hockey. But that was never the point. Just as I’ve built my backyard rink for the enjoyment of my son and our family and friends, this site was built to help spread the hockey love in backyards and on ponds, within families and through circles of friends. This site will not necessarily build hockey players. But, if we’re going about this the right way, it will hopefully assist in building memories.
Here’s to year one.