By Allyson Chiu / The Washington Post
Jeremy Rupke was watching his 4-year-old son Mason at hockey practice when a question popped into his head.
“My wife and I were at the practice and we would see him saying something to the kids and the coaches,” the 33-year-old father of two told The Washington Post on Sunday. “We always know he’s saying random, funny stuff around the house. I just got curious, ‘I wonder what he’s saying out there on the ice.’”
As it turns out, quite a lot.
On Friday, the 3-and-a-half-foot-tall (his father estimates he’s 3-feet-8 in skates) novice hockey player became the sport’s latest viral sensation after his rambling on-ice thoughts were revealed in a video shared to YouTube by Rupke, an Ontario-based hockey coach whose channel boasts more than 218,000 subscribers. The roughly six-minute-long video, titled “4 Year Old Mic’d up at Hockey,” captures Mason toddling around the ice rink, chattering incessantly to himself, teammates and coaches.
Over the course of his 50-minute practice, Mason coaches himself as he works on skating using both feet. He gets confused during drills and complains about his legs being tired. But mostly, he talks about naps and a highly anticipated post-practice trip to McDonald’s, or “Badonald’s” as he calls it. As of early Monday, the video had racked up more than 3.1 million views with many — including members of the hockey community and professional athletes — describing its contents as “so pure” and “hilarious.”
It all began earlier this month when Rupke arrived at Mason’s practice with a microphone and a camera, writing on Twitter that he hoped he could “finally understand what the heck” his son was doing.
“It was … Interesting,” Rupke tweeted Friday about the experience, sharing a shortened version of his YouTube video. The 26-second clip has since been played more than 3 million times and liked by hundreds of thousands.
In the full-length video, a highlight reel of Mason’s shenanigans, the 4-year-old is already talking even before he hits the ice.
“Am I a good score-der?” he asks, swiping at a piece of crumpled up trash with his hockey stick. After giving the makeshift puck a good thwack, he proudly declares, “Oh yeah, I am.”
But when it’s time for actual skating, Mason’s confidence appears to wane.
“I need some help,” he says, prompting Rupke to lift his son and place him on the ice.
Clutching his hockey stick, Mason shuffles around on the slick surface, following the advice of his parents and chanting “one, two, one, two” as he tries to push with both his feet. When he manages to propel himself forward, Mason begins to laugh, excitement creeping into his voice.
“I’m doing it,” he shouts happily.
One-twoing his way around the rink, Mason, who only started skating with the team in October last year, has his fair share of stumbles, which are, of course, accompanied by more commentary.
“I’m okay, it’s okay,” he reassures himself as he lies face down on the ice.
Later, after falling again, a fatigued Mason announces, “I’m gonna have a nap,” before rolling over onto his back.
When he gets tripped up during a drill, however, Mason’s reaction is much more fierce.
Growling, he yells, “Let me go you old fat can,” even though there is no one else around him. As he struggles to get up, he mutters angrily, “You old fat can, old paint can.”
Aside from hockey, Rupke’s video reveals that there are two other things on Mason’s mind: naps and McDonald’s.
“Let’s nap,” he suggests to his teammates in the middle of a drill.
“Are we going to go Badonald’s after?” he asks after skating over to his dad. Subtitles on the video clarify that the young boy is referring to the fast-food chain.
In another clip, Mason can be seen lying on his back on the ice by himself. “Fifteen more minutes and be done and get a baby happy meal,” he says breathlessly.
Rupke told The Post he was shocked when he sat down to go over the footage.
“I didn’t know how much he actually talked,” Rupke said, adding that it was unlikely Mason had been “putting on a show” because his son didn’t really even understand what the microphone was.
Even more surprising, he said, was how quickly the video went viral.
“I’ve made videos in the past that have gotten over a million views,” said Rupke, who has been uploading hockey-related videos to YouTube since 2009. “I’ve never had a video do this, like be a sensation.”
Shortly after the video was shared on Friday, it became a trending moment on Twitter as viewers were delighted by Mason’s antics, many finding the toddler’s thoughts relatable.
“This so closely mirrors my internal monologue on any given day,” one person tweeted.
The video even caught the attention of sports figures such as Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, Canadian hockey commentator Bob McKenzie and Olympic silver medalist Jillian Saulnier, who plays hockey for Canada’s national team.
“To hear the amount of joy that it’s bringing to people and how enthusiastically people are sharing it with others, it’s amazing,” said Rupke, whose goal is to “share the love of hockey.”
Mason, however, “has absolutely no idea” he is now the internet’s newest star, Rupke said.
“He’s 4 years old, he’s got his own little world,” he said. “He doesn’t have any grasp of how people are sharing it and how well-received it is, but he does really like the video. He likes to watch it.”