When my friend Catharina Cyr posted a video on Facebook called “Boys Gotta Have Fun”, I was amazed — and a little bit jealous. Even though we are lucky enough to have a pond hockey rink next to our house, the Cyr outdoor rink is really something else. It’s big – like Texas. In fact I’d say the Cyr family, on their farm north of Edmonton, Alberta, has one heck of a Grade-A outdoor rink on their hands.
There isn’t a lot that Catharina and her husband Marty don’t do well. Their farm is massive, spanning over 6 sections of land, and although it’s winter, the time when many farmers head for Hawaii or Arizona to get out of the cold, Marty is busy, taking care of business. He’s in the midst of building a chicken barn that will increase their output to 165,000 chickens every 8 weeks when it’s finished.
If you know anything about farming, the pictures Catharina is letting me share with you will give you an idea of the size of their operation: just look at the size of that tractor! Catharina helps with the running of their farm, the household and their three boys – two out of three are still in elementary school – and she sells Rodan & Fields skin care products in her spare time, which isn’t very spare.
“You know how it is, Colleen,” she tells me. “Farmer’s wife, hockey mom — and hockey, hockey all the time! I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Catharina and Marty are hockey parents, shuttling the kids to two practices and three games a week in the winter, and up to four spring hockey tournaments when the regular season comes to an end. Marty coaches too. In fact, he’s in his 13th year as a coach.
“I’m a pretty strict when it comes discipline,” he tells me. “I like to coach life lessons and attitude more than plays, like how to become a fine young man.”
Upping the Hockey Ante
Since their youngest boys – an Atom and a Pee-Wee – love the game so much, and living on a farm means play dates involve travel, Marty, decided to up the hockey ante and built a rink in their yard. But before he began, he did his research.
“I like to come in to any project quite prepared,” he tells me via Facetime as he takes a break from his barn building for a quick bite to eat. “I spent a lot of time learning.”
“Lets start with the boards,” I say. “Did you build them yourself?”
“No!” Catharina butts in. “He wanted to, but I wouldn’t let him. He has too many other things to do than to spend his time building the boards,” she tells me, giggling.
“I got them from Canadian Arena Products in Edmonton,” Marty adds, “It took us an afternoon to bolt them all together.”
As for ice making, Marty spent a lot of time watching YouTube videos.
“I watched probably 20 or 30 different ones to learn how to make the ice properly.”
“And did that work?” I asked.
“Sure did,” he laughs. To make the ice, he brought in 6,000 gallons of water and dumped it on the lining, an inch at a time. It took him three pours and three hours to make the ice.
And how does he keep the ice?
“The kids and I spent some time in the shop and built a flooding rig,” he says.
“A Zamboni?” I ask.
He laughs. “No Zamboni! I walk behind it!”
The Cyrs have a hot tub beside the rink and Marty has hooked up a hose going from the hot tub to let him put a hot coat of water on it whenever it needs one.
All the Bells and Whistles of an Outdoor Municipal Rink
Measuring 40 feet wide and 80 feet long, the Cyr rink has all the bells and whistles you would expect in any municipal outdoor rink: there’s a door to get onto the ice, boards that completely surround the ice surface, netting set up at either end to catch errant pucks, and spot lights set up all around it so the they can play on it at night. There’s music too, coming from speakers on the porch. Catharina can stay in the house and still see the game.
“The boys are on their rink every day of the week,” Catharina tells me. “They always find some time in their day to get outside and make some shots on goal or just play around, passing the puck to each other.”
“Build it! They will play!”
Marty’s finished lunch and needs to get back to the barn building.
“Did you hear a voice saying ‘Build it, they will play’?” I ask him, a reference to the baseball movie starring Kevin Costner, Field of Dreams. Marty laughs when I ask him about the voice.
“I heard my inner child’s voice,” he says. “I asked myself, ‘What would I really have loved to have as a kid?’ This was it.”