I’m pumped to introduce you to the second dad to be named a “Rad Sports Dad.” His name is Brad Marmo. Brad represents everything SportsDadHub is about:
- Being a dad and possitive role model for your kids
- Fueling your kids’ passion for sports
- Using sports to teach your kids life lessons and forming a lifelong bond
- Helping your kids become the best athletes THEY want to be
What Makes Brad So Rad?
As soon as he sensed that his two boys had an interest in ice skating and playing hockey, the dude built them an ice rink in their backyard!
He didn’t just want to give them something they would enjoy. He wanted to give them childhood memories that would last a lifetime.
A Sports Dad can’t get much more rad than that.
When I saw the pictures of his backyard ice rink on Twitter, I knew he was the next Rad Sports Dad.
Dedication like that cannot be ignored.
If you’re anything like me, you want to get to know Brad a little. So I conducted a little Q & A to help us do that. I hope you enjoy it.
Q: How old are you and your wife?
A: I’m 36 and my wife is 35. We are coming up on 10 years of marriage and have been together for 15. I used to say to myself, “Wow, I’ve been out of high school for how long?” Lately I’ve been saying the same thing about marriage, and more recently, being a dad.
A: My wife is from Chelmsford, MA where we live now. She swore she would never return, as many of us do to our hometowns, but here we are and both loving every second of it. I am originally from New Jersey, but after meeting my wife in college (Fairfield University in CT), I eventually decided to make the move north to start making things official.
Q: How old are your boys?
A: 5-years-old and 2.
Q: What organized sports do your kids play? Do they have a favorite?
A: Ha! A favorite, that’s understatement. The other day my 5-year-old and I were sitting at the ice rink after his “Learn to play hockey” class, watching the older kids practice and both leaning forward in our seats trying to take in everything and anything happening on the ice. Simply put, neither of us could get enough, and it was at that moment I had a premonition that this is our lives for the foreseeable future. I love it, he loves it, and we are pretty much “all-in” with ice hockey at this point.
He also plays and kicks butt at soccer and we just signed him up for T-ball in the spring (in no small part due to your advice about avoiding sports burnout, as the original plan was to skip T-ball and only do soccer/hockey).
The 2-year-old just started soccer a few weeks ago and it’s his first foray into organized sports. The signs are mixed at this point as far as how he feels about being told what to do, but he is trying, and to be honest, shows signs of more raw talent than his big brother. I think his big brother might have more competitive drive, but the little guy might be the one with the natural skills. I wrote about their soccer differences here: Two Tales, Same Game.
Q: What made you decide to build a backyard ice rink?
A: I’ve always kind of had this idea in the back of my head once we bought our current house and had the yard to do it. So I wrote an article about “having visions” of a backyard rink to try and light a fire under my butt by making myself accountable to my readers. But, truth be told, the rink was built days after the tragedy in Newtown, CT and I think about that horrible day most times I look at the rink.
The overall sentiment after that day was to hug and kiss your kids and appreciate every moment with them, and while I knew I was doing the hugging and kissing, I wanted to do better at appreciating every moment with them. I knew I could be doing more to create deeper memories with them that they will have forever. Again, not just memories, but memories they will have forever. My belief was/is that the rink would create such memories.
Q: How long did it take you to build the rink? Did you have any help?
A: Yes, my buddy who is a carpenter and custom cabinet builder led the charge on this project. My 5-year-old and I were his helpers and all said and done it probably took us under 3 hours to build, with another hour or so at the hardware store to gather supplies. All in, it cost me $300 with the tarp being the most expensive part of the equation.
A: We went with the simple approach. Made a rectangle out of 2x8s (with some 2x10s where the yard sloped down) and used small wooden stakes around the perimeter to keep the box from shifting. We based everything off of the tarp size – 30′ x 50′. From there I bought enough wood to make a 25′ x 40′ box, and with 10ft pieces of lumber, only one piece had to be cut in half for the short sides. We laid the whole thing out first, then constructed from corner to corner. My buddy used his speed square to make sure each corner was at a nice 90 degree angle before we moved on down the line. String was used from one corner to the next to create a straight line for the sides. At each junction of 2x8s, we took a 1ft piece of 2×4 and screwed it to the backs of each to join them together, staking the perimeter as we went. The stakes keep the whole frame from racking back and forth, the 2x4s keep all of the pieces from pulling away side to side. The rest is up to Mother Nature.
Q: What did your kids say and do when you told them what you were doing?
A: Honestly, my 5-year-old really didn’t get it until there was water, even though I was trying to explain it to him the whole time. I think he thought it would be like the real rink he has his lessons at and didn’t understand that what we were building would be something we could skate on.
Q: How did they react the first time it was ready to skate on?
A: The first official skate was New Year’s Eve. We had some friends over whose kids skate and the idea was do a little skating before we got down to celebrating. The funniest part was that first sheet of ice was like glass. The kids were slipping and falling all over the place. I was horrified and worried someone would get injured and we would be spending NYE at the emergency room. But all turned out well and after a little “scratching up” of the ice surface the skating conditions improved and good times were had.
Q: What’s the best and worst thing about having a backyard rink?
A: The best is the time spent on it. Truth be told, we were only able to skate on it a handful of times as this was a relatively mild winter in New England. But the times we did have were memorable and well worth the money and effort. I will always remember my 5-year-old and I playing out there for hours one Saturday to the tune of a game whose final score was 31-30. We even got mommy out there a few times to play hockey with us, and one Saturday had a group of friends over for a fun afternoon of skating and hockey.
The worst – staring out my window at a slushy, watery box and cursing global warming.
Q: Is this going to be an annual tradition? If so, is there anything you’ll do differently next year?
A: Yes, I will do this annually. I’m going to number the pieces before I take it apart and put it back as close to the same as I can. The thing I will do differently next year is probably swap out all 2x8s for 2x10s. I noticed that the parts of the rink that would get watery/slushy first were the shallow ends. Theorizing that less ice depth and being closer to the “warm” ground was the cause of this, I believe that increasing the overall depth of the rink will improve conditions.
At some point as I perfect the process, I will make it bigger. Our local hardware store sells and markets 40′ x 100′ pieces of plastic for ice rinks, so I basically consider that a challenge.
Q: Describe your favorite Sports Dad memory so far?
A: I don’t think there is an exact moment so far as much as it’s my 5-year-old’s progress and drive with regards to ice skating and hockey. He used to “step skate” forever and all of a sudden one day we was pushing and gliding like an expert. Next thing I know he has this glint is in his eye at class like he needs to be the first in all of his drills, the result being him crashing into the boards and forfeiting his body like a madman in an effort to be first. We talk with him about the importance of doing the drills right as opposed to being first, but I still like to see that drive.
Actually, one moment that I will always remember came when him and another kid fell together and the other kid’s skate nicked him in the leg. It cut his pants, but nothing past that. But my son was definitely shocked by the whole thing and came off the ice crying. Once we inspected and realized there was nothing wrong, I was about to ask if he wanted to go back out there, but before I could do so he pushed himself away from me and went back out on his own.
Proud is an understatement.
Q: What’s the best part about being a Sports Dad?
A: The sports. My wife and I both love watching sports and playing sports. Now to be able to combine the two by playing with my sons and then getting to watch them on their own is just the best. That’s actually the best part, the combination of the two. I take my 5-year-old to a public skating session on Sundays and skate with him, then we have his lessons on Mondays. I can draw a direct line between the time we spend together on Sundays and his improvements in class on Monday, and that is a really, really awesome feeling.
Q: What’s the worst/most challenging part about being a Sports Dad?
A: Selfish stuff. Waking up on Saturday mornings for soccer when I would rather have an extra 45 mins to sleep in, and conversely, having to go to bed earlier on Friday nights knowing we are getting up early for soccer. I realize this is just the start as early mornings and hockey are going to be worse (earlier).
The other part is the 2-year-old. He isn’t one for the passenger seat, and while the 5-year-old is out there doing his thing, whether it’s at soccer or hockey, the little guy is bored and basically doing everything he shouldn’t be doing in an attempt to gain our attention.
Now that he plays soccer too, it’s a little bit better, but his lesson is after his big brother’s and that is a loooong 45 minutes.
A: The structure and social benefits. Structure in that they are required to follow the rules and organization of someone else’s “show” besides their parents. Yes, this happens at school and daycare too, but I feel this is an important thing for them to learn at play as well as at school.
The social benefits are great too. My oldest is a social butterfly and oftentimes I wonder if he is more interested in “who’s who” more so than the sport itself. “So and so is in Mrs. So and So’s class and I see him on the playground and now he is on my soccer team. Oh look, it’s so and so. He was in my skating class last year, but not this year, and now he is back in my class for hockey.”
I often hear from other parents with older kids that some of their closest friends are parents they met through organized sports. So, new friends for my boys and new friends for my wife and I, all under the backdrop of sports. Can’t really find anything wrong with that.
In short, right now we are a sports family and loving every second of it.
A Closing Message From Brad
If you would like to read more about the adventures of Brad the Dad and his two boys, you can find me as a founding contributor on Dads Round Table. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and also found on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.
Nominate The Next Rad Sports Dad!
Do you know a Rad Sports Dad? If so, drop me a line ( Kevin@SportsDadHub.com ) and let me know about him. Tell me why he should be Rad Sports Dad #3.
If you don’t know a Rad Sports Dad, maybe it’s because YOU are one! Either that or you need to find some better friends, dude. HaHa!
Thanks Brad, For Being So Rad
I’d like to thank Brad Marmo for taking the time to let us get to know him and his family a little bit. If you agree that Brad is pretty Rad, let him know by connecting with him on the networks he provided above. Brad is also a damn good writer and shares more great stuff along with some other swell fellas on Dads Round Table. Check them out.
Thanks for reading,