In the cold months of the Maine winter, many sports come out of summer hibernation for us all to play. Most people are familiar with skiing, snowboarding, hockey, and snowshoeing. But have you ever heard of broomball? Broomball is winter’s true hidden gem. A sport that few are familiar with, it is a game much like field hockey that is played on ice. That’s ice hockey, right? Wrong. In broomball, players wear sneakers, not skates, and run all around the rink chasing a ball, not a puck. It is not necessarily the most graceful of sports, but it is quite fun.
While there is no definite record as to the exact roots of broomball, historians believe that the game originated in Canada and possibly some parts of Sweden. Since the first recorded games took place in Perdue, Saskatchewan on March 5, 1909, broomball has taken off to become an ever-growing sport. Much like a smaller version of field hockey, six players from each team, one goalkeeper, and five field players, are permitted on the ice at once with the ultimate objective being to get the ball into the hockey net as many times as possible. The game consists of 2 halves, 20 minutes each.
From its North American roots, broomball has spread to the international community, including countries such as Australia, Japan, Italy, Germany, and Switzerland. The International Federation of Broomball Associations (IFBA) was also established in 1998 and has acted as the governing body for broomball worldwide. Every two years, the IFBA hosts the Broomball World Championships, also known as the Challenge Cup, in which teams from all around the globe come together to compete for the ultimate broomball title.
While teams here at Bates are not sanctioned with the IFBA, we do have a bustling intramural circuit running from January through the end of February. This year there are four Bates teams competing on the Bates circuit to take home the school championship title. The sport brings friends and strangers alike to the ice for a riveting game of fun.
Adair Andre ‘18, another senior member of team SwUGGs, says, “Broomball lights my fire. I’m a naturally competitive person and broomball gets me going.” Throughout the game, there are countless falls, trips, and dives, demonstrating the players’ eagerness and willingness to put it all out on the ice to take home the win. But there are also plenty of laughs and smiles to go around, too. It’s clear that everyone involved is having a great time, while also enjoying the opportunity to let off steam and dip into their competitive edge.
Hadley Moreau ‘19, a junior member of SwUGGs, talked about the excitement of the broomball. After her Wednesday night game, she exclaimed, “I love the adrenaline rush of broomball!” Based on the excitement of all players, it seemed clear that players were enjoying sliding aggressively on the ice to capture the ball and take a shot at the goal. And while there was some very healthy competition involved, fun was obviously the ultimate goal. Senior captain of SwUGGs, Anna Franceschetti ‘18, discussed the great combination of competition and fun on the Bates circuit. She noted, “It’s awesome we have an eclectic group of people that are willing to get sendy on the ice,” hinting at her team’s competitive vibe. But in the end her team is all about having, “lots of fun!” And how could you not, running around on ice with all of your good friends? The Bates broomball season continues until February 28th, 2018.