AND here we are. Broomball. Around this very time last year, I was asked by Lorka Munoz-Daughtery if I would be a commentator when FiveRivers MetroPark’s RiverScape began hosting Monday Night Broomball.
“Sure,” I told Lorka. “But… uh… just what is… uh… Broomball.” (Okay. That’s not a TRANSCRIPT of the conversation we had; rather, it’s kind of the transcript of what was going on in my HEAD.) In essence?
I had no clue what Broomball was… and I certainly had no idea I would fall in love with this exciting, light-speed fast sport played on ice. And no, Broomball is NOT ice hockey. Hmmm… Best to say that Broomball is not exactly ice hockey. That, I guess, would be a much more accurate description of the sport.
In fact, to get your head around Broomball and to understand how incredibly addictive the sport is, try and imagine a version of soccer played on ice… with a round ball being hit towards this goal with one hand and with that other hand using…
Yep: you hit a BALL with your BROOM
And better – Broomball is being played by an equal number of women AND men, many of whom are wearing jeans, sweatshirts and running shoes. Oh, yeah. And they are having the time of their lives, sweating in their sweatshirts and running the soles of their running shoes off.
But all this understanding came to me slowly early this year, when I arrived at my first Broomball gig at RiverScape, to that brand new and beautiful ice rink. There I found… ta da!… Broomball teams with Broomball players eager to get out on that ice and play their matches.
Me, I’m a kind of a curious person, so I started talking to the closest player I could find; I’ll protect his anonymity because I believe in that, and I don’t think I ever got his real name… just his Broomball game – which, when the game was going well, was “CheeseHead” (I think the Green Bay Packers may have had something to do with that) and his Broomball nick name when things had gone awry was – BlockHead.
What he told me that night stunned me… and made me pretty happy about getting to be the commentator to… well, let’s just admit that over the course of the season from January (first week) to March (maybe the second or third week), my “commentator” job was to talk to the two or three folks who maybe roamed up from Monument to see what was going on in the rink.
So here’s what CheeseHead/BlockHead told me: most Broomball players in the U.S. of A. come from places like Wisconsin and Minnesota where it snows in August (well… maybe) on until like June or early July. (I am — I hope — exaggerating. For effect.) “But,” he went on to say, “Broomball is a HUGE SPORT on college campuses. Like at Miami University down SOUTH in Oxford of Ohio”. There, he told me, a couple of THOUSAND students play intramural Broomball.
Right there in Oxford, Ohio. Right under our Dayton, Ohio noses.
But HOORAY and HALLELUJAH! because watching Broomball (bad knees… ice rinks would have me crawling the instant my left knee joined my right knee on the ice) is about as wonderful an experience in the bitter cold weather of Midwest winters as a person can have.
It’s FAST: ice does that, and the players go like the wind. The “soccer” part of it is like a thousand times more exciting than soccer on dirt and grass… and soccer played on those summer grounds is fast and exciting in itself. (I’ve already fessed up on these electronic pages to being from St. Louis, where there used to be only two sports: soccer and baseball. Football? What’s that? Basketball??? That’s for the Protestants who don’t know any better… Keeping in mind that even those “”proper and pious” followers of Methodism or the folks who go to the Temple every Saturday will identify their neighbors as being in, like Holy Innocents or Our Lady of the Pillar of… Well, the PARISH where their homes are located… because, well, Saint/St. Louis has a LOT of Catholics. And all those Catholic kids are usually playing… soccer of baseball.
(These days, probably even in St. Louis, Methodists and atheists probably are playing soccer.)
Oh and by the way – way to go St. Louis Cardinals. You guys had fun the whole baseball season (driving fans NUTS), and then you went to work in time to win the World Series. Sorry Reds fans. Whether a person lives in Dayton or Hong Kong… always a Cardinal fan. You go, Stan Musial.
Broomball, though. Ah… Broomball is a sport that must be enjoyed from close up. As close up as you can get, to appreciate the speed, athleticisim and the great manners with which the game is played.
Yep. Good manners. “Foul” somebody and you get sent off the ice for a minute or two (LONG MINUTES, it must be noted) and on the way off the ice, shake hands. The intent of Broomball is not to hurt the other players: it’s to have fun.
To have fun. Not to “kill ’em” like in football or to “wing ’em” like in baseball and not to like those phony fouls in basketball… and my GOD… not even close to the “I went to a fight and a hockey game broke out” mentality of… Well, you get the comparisons.
Broomball will be played again, beginning right away in January on Monday and Wednesday nights. Wrap yourself up with every layer of clothing and outer wear you own (and borrow some more of that stuff just to be careful) and come down for Broomball. Really. You will be freezing and loving every frozen minute… Loving it all, in fact.
Really. Would I lie about freezing in January in Dayton?