Then, while watching a Red Sox game with friend and co-founder Timmy Roberts last year, it came to Smith.
“We were watching an outfielder go back for the ball, and as he was running his cleats went across the gravel (of the warning track) and he put his arm out,” the 24-year-old Smith said. “He knows he’s close to the wall, it’s an obvious line and not a solid object. It’s a natural fit.
“Hockey is the fastest, most intense sport, yet there’s not an indicator for players or officials until they hit a solid object.”
After some testing, including using a stoplight painting pattern of yellow and red, the 40-inch orange Look-Up Line was painted onto the ice at Pingree’s Johnson Rink.
It seems strange to him that nothing like this has been permanently adopted in hockey before.
Smith looked at every other major sport and found boundary restrictions and warnings. The National Football League moved its goalposts back from the goal line to the back of the end zone in 1974; basketball hoops were adjusted to an L-shaped base; and baseball has the warning track. Even swimming pools have lines painted on the bottom to warn swimmers when they’re approaching the wall.
Yet hockey, a game played on ice, had nothing.
“At Pingree, the feedback has been that it makes sense and ‘Why hasn’t anyone else thought of this?’,” Smith said.
“A figure skating instructor, Christine Hopkins, called me and said, ‘This is unbelievable for figure skaters. They know where they are on the ice.’ It can be applied for kids just learning to skate, and one of the hardest things is to stick handle with your head up.”
Overall, it took only 61/2 gallons of paint for Pingree to install the Look-Up Line. Smith figures the cost would be minimal, if anything. When rinks repaint, they can simply deduct the extra white paint that they won’t need.