Earlier this year, Boston College men’s hockey alumni Parker Milner and Brooks Dyroff (both class of 2013) started Pregame Skate, an online hockey magazine that includes 3 newsletters a week and a monthly live conference call.
This month, Milner and Dyroff are donating all subscription proceeds to the You Can Play Project, so subscribe now to help a great cause! In conjunction to donating to You Can Play, this month’s Pregame Skate live conference call will feature Matt Gaffney from the New York City Gay Hockey Association, and New Jersey Devils forward Kurtis Gabriel, an ally who was the first player in the NHL to use Pride Tape in a game.
We talked to Milner about why he and Dyroff started Pregame Skate and what makes the site unique!
BCI: Can you talk about how the idea for Pregame Skate came to be and how you and Brooks went about launching it?
PM: Brooks came to me with the idea in January after spending significant time in London where he didn’t have access to news about hockey on a daily basis. He knew I was doing a lot of food writing in Charleston and thought I might be interested in working on a hockey related digital magazine startup. Brooks has done extensive research on the rising popularity of email newsletters, so we started out by writing and sending a tri-weekly newsletter that goes out to a dedicated subscriber list.
BCI: Tell us a little bit about Pregame Skate and why BC hockey fans should subscribe. What makes it different than other hockey media outlets?
PM: Pregame skating is a membership community for hockey friends and families. Subscribers receive the newsletter I mentioned above, but we think we set ourselves apart from other media outlets with our live conference call and in-person events feature, which truly allows subscribers to get as close as possible to the big names in the game. These calls are structured as such: I host usually one player, coach or scout for a general discussion (which lasts about 30 minutes). Subscribers can call in and listen live and then we open it up to questions for 15 minutes. We turn this recorded call into a podcast afterwards. We plan to use this exact same structure with our live in-person events--we are excited for our first one of those in Pittsburgh in September.
BCI: What skills have each of you brought to the project that allow you to be more successful running this as a pair than either of you would be solo?
PM: Brooks has experience in the finance and digital marketing worlds from starting his career at J.P. Morgan and Blackstone and moving on to owning and operating his own company, Walk-On Holdings which is an umbrella company for Pregame Skate as well as Tag The Flag and The Street Sheet. I have writing experience from my freelance food journalism work in Charleston with Charleston Magazine, Charleston City Paper, and Eater Charleston. With that said, we both have grown through the game and feel like we can speak as experts to what many adolescent players and their parents are going through. Together, we are able to find a creative and engaging way to relay this message.
BCI: How do you feel that being a Boston College student athlete prepared you for creating something like Pregame Skate? Your class in particular seems to be out there doing cool things - you and Brooks have this, Pat Mullane has the Comm Ave Charity Classic...
PM: At Boston College, we were trained to multi-task, and Brooks certainly still does this with his current business. I am also juggling Pregame Skate with my food writing and career as a professional hockey player, so I would say we are both getting the most out of our days. Beyond that, Boston College taught us the importance of giving back to the people and organizations that helped us get there, and that’s definitely something we are attempting to work into Pregame Skate.
BCI: How do you balance the time commitment of the ECHL, particularly with the travel involved and the surprise call-ups to the AHL, with this endeavor?
PM: It’s definitely difficult to keep up with deadlines at times with the sporadic minor league hockey lifestyle. With that said, I do have a lot of free time and I find writing to be a relaxing outlet to the rigors of the schedule.
BCI: You’re donating June proceeds to You Can Play in honor of Pride Month. Can you talk a bit about why giving back is important to you both with the venture and about why you support YCP and their mission in particular?
PM: Both Brooks and I have received quite a bit of help to make it to where we are today, so giving back is something that we always want to be a part of Pregame Skate. We plan to do this with local youth hockey organizations throughout the country. We actually had planned on doing a Hockey is for Everyone series and this call fit in with that perfectly with June being Pride Month. We found a great group to partner with (the New York City Gay Hockey Association), and I played with Kurtis Gabriel a number of years ago with the Iowa Wild, which is how [the call with Matt and Kurtis] came together. We support the mission to include everyone in the game we love and are excited to talk to Kurtis about what this cause means to him.
Be sure to sign up at pregameskate.com so you can listen to this and other live conference calls where we tackle questions like: What is it like to be traded in the NHL? What are Division 1 scouts looking for? What is it like to play professionally overseas?
BCI: Anything else you want our readers to know about Pregame Skate?
PM: Every day when Brooks and I discuss new ideas and strategies, we just go back to how cool we would have found something like this when we were 13 or 14 years old. I think about hopping on the phone and listening to Mario Lemieux or Ron Francis talk about hockey and what that would have meant to me. That’s the motivation for us with this business--to make a difference for kids that are in the midst of a journey that truly changed both of our lives.
[Ed. Note: If you’re looking to give back during Pride Month like Milner and Dyroff are doing, in addition to organizations like You Can Play we encourage you to support local LGBT+ organizations in your community, like Pregame Skate’s partner the New York City Gay Hockey Association!]