Sweeping the Competition: UVM Broomball

07/10/18

By Lauren Foley Unigo Campus Rep at UVM Most people would agree that broomball is an unusual sport. It generally consists of wearing special shoes, slipping around on ice, and batting at a ball with a specially prepared broom. Originating in Canada, this sport has been around for decades, but is little-known in the States. At UVM, however, broomball is the university’s most popular intramural sport. A bizarre mixture of field hockey and ice hockey, often the enormous amount of interest in the sport results in the university having to turn students away. With rules similar to ice hockey and the added flair of sneakers on ice and household brooms, it is no surprise that UVM students line up to take part in this quirky sport. Former participant Travis Robillard notes that his experience with broomball was one he will never forget, “It is such a weird sport—I think that it’s part of the draw. I mean, you get to run around on ice and the game is really easy to learn.” Many people have tried to understand the reasons behind the bizarre sport’s popularity, but it may come down to the game’s simple rules and intriguing basis. With two 15 minute periods, 5 players, and 1 goalkeeper, the main objective is to score more goals than your opponent—something not so unusual. However, all of this is done with brooms on an ice rink sans skates. What’s not to love? Unbeknownst to most people, there are a few small drawbacks to the sport. Robillard remarked, “I wish I had had better shoes for it. I fell a lot. It’s hard to keep your balance on the ice.” At UVM, there are no specific footwear requirements aside from sneakers. Traditionally, however, specially designed sneakers are used that allow for more traction on the ice. Many students get their fair share of slipping and sliding, which is to be expected. University rules also dictate specifics about how many men and women can be on the ice at any time, hindering many teams that had disproportionate numbers, “It was a real challenge to substitute when we only had two girls on the entire team. They definitely got a lot of time out there,” said Robillard. In general, though, these drawbacks do little to decrease the fanfare associated with broomball. Each winter, more and more students take part in the sport. There is no cash prize or esteemed accolades for people who have successfully conquered the UVM Broomball league. In lieu of typical flashy athletic awards, teams are immortalized on the UVM Campus Recreation website as well as have their names inscribed on a special plaque in the gym complex. Though there is no club for this bizarre sport, many consider that a good thing. As Robillard noted, “Club sports can get really competitive, but with intramurals, anyone can play, even if they’re not that good.” Students are obviously taking advantage of the opportunity. For an intramural sport most people have never heard of, broomball has certainly acquired quite a following that has students all over campus eager to get on the ice and sweep the competition.

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