Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — MEDINA — Avid hockey fans know the stories of their favorite players and how those players grew up on makeshift ice rinks in their childhood homes. Like sandlot baseball, a homemade rink takes the game and strips it down to its roots.
For the Oswald family, a professional career in sports may not be in any of their futures, but the purity of the game is on full display in front of their West Center Street home.
“We tried it in the backyard, but it’s sloped,” said Tim Oswald, the patriarch of the bunch. Creating the rink was challenging because of that slope and how the water froze unevenly in back of the house. Moving it to the front “worked out well” and so long as the temperatures remain cold enough a relatively large bunch of youngsters can be seen from time to time playing pick-up hockey.
Oswald and his wife Donna moved to the area nine years ago from Buffalo. The couple has eight children, none of whom had ever skated before the family started crafting the 30 by 50 surface.
“We went to a friend’s house and started skating there, so we decided to do it here, too,” Oswald recalled. “Since it’s smaller than a regular rink I think the kids learned to skate better since they had to stop faster and quicker instead of skating in a big circle.”
Oswald normally can be seen on the sidelines watching his children and various friends have friendly, spirited competitions against each other. There have been occasions, however, when he has laced up the goalie pads and tried stopping pucks while wearing sneakers.
The kids in the Oswald family range from ages 7 to 20. Tim Jr. is the oldest, and he said the games are always fun and competitive, but “we keep it cool” because of the age differences.