Chris Kibui’s hockey reality began with a Hollywood fantasy.
“It’s pretty cliché: I watched ‘The Mighty Ducks’ quite a while ago,” Kibui, a 25-year-old resident of Cambridge, England, told me recently. “While watching, I told myself that at some point when I would be able to, that’s something I’d definitely do because the area I grew up in it wouldn’t be a possibility to play ice hockey. I said as soon as I had the means, the transport, and the money to go out and buy the equipment, it would be something I’d commit to. And I did.”
And how. These days Kibui is all hockey, all the time, sharing his basically self-taught knowledge of ice skating and hockey in a series of YouTube videos and on his Web site, www.hockeytutorial.com. The 214 videos shot over four years chronicle his hockey journey from a late-bloomer novice ice skater to a swirling dervish with hockey stick in hand.
Kibui’s work has attracted a following. His videos have generated millions of YouTube views worldwide over the last few years, lured 18,000 subscribers to his Hockey Tutorial YouTube Channel and 15,000 subscribers to his hockeytutorial.com Web site.
He believes the videos have caught on because they give beginning adult skaters and hockey players an inspirational push from a guy who’s striving to learn the game in a country where ice hockey is an afterthought.
“I receive messages at least weekly from people saying that ‘I’ve been watching your videos for the last 3-4 years and I’ve decided to learn how to play some rec hockey after feeling the need to play from watching some of the videos you posted,'” Kibui told me. “I don’t think there’s anything more fantastic than that because it’s doing what the videos are there to do. They’re there to show ‘Look, I’m a 25-year-old black guy from Kenya that lives in the UK that plays hockey.’ If I can do it, why can’t you?”
Growing up in East London, Kibui didn’t put on a pair of ice skates until he was 16. Getting around the ice as a beginner was tough for Kibui. Getting help and tips from more experienced skaters at his local rink was even tougher, he said.
“I quickly discovered that all of the people that were really good skaters normally were quite older than me and, at the time, did not want to spend two minutes to help the newbie learn how to get his edges on the ice” he said. “And that was something that I found in every ice rink I visited in all of the countries – even when I went on holiday to different ice rinks in Europe and also in the States and Canada. It was the exact same thing. The people that I met were not friendly or give you the time of day.”
That’s when the light bulb clicked on in Kibui’s head.
“I thought ‘There’s got to be other people in this position,'” he said. “So instead of having them go through what I’m going through now, I thought to myself ‘When I learn how to stop, I’m going to show other people how to stop.’ So we filmed a video, and it’s just grown from that.”
Feeling confident in his skating abilities by age 20, Kibui felt ready to give hockey a try. Only problem was there weren’t that many players around to teach him. A nation of nearly 64 million people, Great Britain has 2,289 male ice hockey players, 3,815 junior players, and only 694 female players, according to International Ice Hockey Federation statistics.
“Nobody taught me how to play hockey. I literally learnt through watching countless NHL games, watching a lot of movies. I got myself a stick, a puck I could use off the ice, and just spent a lot of time stickhandling,” he said. “Then I got a goal and then I used to practice shooting. I just tried to develop the basic skills at home, and then I went in and just started playing.”
While Kibui was doing his self-help hockey thing, his English mates were scratching their heads.
“They were pretty confused because over here it’s football, or soccer as you call it, and there’s nothing else that people do,” he said. “You have the few people who are considered strange who play tennis and the guys that are considered jocks that play rugby, similar to your American football. about. The people in the UK, as soon as you mention hockey, they think of a toothless brute that likes to fight. But it’s so much more than that, and that’s what we’re trying to show them. We’re just trying to spread the love of hockey.”
Kibui’s avocation has become his vocation. He quit his day job at Apple to dedicate all his time to the Web site and videos that he works on with his friend Dan Fry, the technical mastermind behind the enterprise. They’ve forged business relationships with hockey-related companies and they also sell hockey training items and jerseys on the Hockey Tutorial Web site.
“I made the decision to subside my work because I really wanted to give this my all,” he said. “In essence, hockey has changed my life because it’s allowing me to do what I love. I look forward to waking up the next morning to start on the next project, which I think is very important. I never want to wake up and not be passionate about what I’m doing.”