Students stay up late to compete on the ice
Broomball is one of the most popular intramural sports offered at UNK. Played at the Viaero Event Center late at night, students stay up in order to get physical on the ice.
Broomball is a simplified version of hockey. Players use sticks with rubber ends to push around a ball (rather than a puck) into a goal on the ice. Rather than skates, students wear tennis shoes and try their best to stay on their feet on the slippery ice rink.
“My favorite thing about broomball is the aggressiveness,” said Megan Hunke, a senior biology emphasis health science and pre-med major from Holdrege. “I like that we’re all friends and can have a good time and still be competitive— but not be so competitive that it’s not fun anymore.”
Hunke is attending the University of Nebraska Medical Center for med school next year, but still manages to find time between studying to play lots of intramural sports, including mud tug, flag football, sand volleyball, indoor volleyball and broomball.
Broomball is made up of teams with five players total, four on the offense and one guarding the goal. Additional players are allowed to sit on the substitution bench and can sub in during the game.
The game starts with a face-off at the whistle blow, and the chaos ensues. Players slip and slide over the ice, sometimes bumping into each other. An accidental hit or a high-stick results in a two-minute penalty box sit and an intentional or flagrant hit will bench a player for four minutes.
“High sticking is probably the hardest not to do because it feels natural to swing the stick back and then you hear the whistle blow,” Hunke said.
There are two 10-minute halves with a two-minute half time. The team with the most points at the final buzzer wins. A tie results in a shoot-out, where each team chooses a person to shoot at a goalie-less goal, and go back and forth until one team misses.
UNK has three broomball divisions: men’s, women’s and co-ed. In co-ed, teams must have two women on the offense at all times, with males filling in the other two spots. The gender of the goalie doesn’t matter. Men’s points are worth one in co-ed, while women’s points are worth two. Hunke says she likes playing on her women’s team more than on her co-ed team because of the rhythm among teammates.
The intramural office provides required helmets to all. Also supplied by the intramural office are shin guards and elbow pads, which are not required, but strongly recommended for prevention of injury. Players often use duct tape to provide extra security on the helmets and shin guards, as the physical nature of the sport causes some serious wear and tear on the equipment.
New this year were the greatly needed shin guard and helmet replacements and additions, as old equipment had suffered the wrath of the ice and there were often not enough shin guards to cover the legs of all the players.
“It’s about time we got new equipment; I’m glad we have it. It’s nice!” said Hunke.
“We evaluate what equipment to purchase for the upcoming year based on condition, need and, of course, budget. Out of the dozens of leagues we offer, broomball requires the most equipment and is arguably one of the more dangerous intramural sports,” said Andrew Winscot, the assistant director of campus recreation. Those factors among others helped campus recreation make the decision to purchase the new equipment.
“The old equipment was getting really bad, so it’s nice to have all of this new stuff to make sure that we actually have protection and can rely on having stuff to use each time,” said Lacey Johnson, a senior majoring in psychobiology for pre-physical therapy with health science and healthcare management minors from Hastings.
“I wear long sleeves and long pants because you’re probably going to fall on the ice. I duct tape the pads to my knees to make sure that they don’t fall off,” said Johnson.
Also new this year was a required $10 fee on top of the $20 intramural semester fee to play intramurals. This fee had to be paid in person at the intramural office during office hours. Students weren’t allowed to pay the $10 at or before their games, and didn’t have an online payment option like the regular fee.
This caused some problems among players who didn’t pay close enough attention to the email sent out, and resulted in forfeited or canceled games, with some players not able to participate until their fee was paid in the office.
“To be accessible we understand we need to provide affordable and convenient programs. However, there are a handful of intramural sports that require us moving off campus to be able to offer them. We are fortunate that we have community members willing to work with us and allow us to use their facilities,” Winscot said. “An additional fee isn’t always the case when offering off campus programs, but in this particular instance we felt it was warranted. Broomball is one of our most popular sports and the last thing we would want is to deter anyone from participating.”
Students likely understood the logic behind the additional fee, as Winscot said participation numbers were not affected compared to previous years.
Although players vocalize being thankful for the new equipment, it was unclear if the additional fee was used for purchasing the shin guards and helmets.
In addition to the special safety equipment, there are special rules and regulations in place to ensure student safety on the ice.
Winscot emphasizes the importance of reading and understanding the rules. “There are rules specifically for broomball that are in place almost solely for safety purposes. No sliding and high sticking are examples,” he said.
Johnson and Hunke hope to carry their team to the championship. As members of Got That Glitter on Our Ice, they have won several years in a row.
Broomball season is nearing its end, with the regular season games already played and playoffs beginning this week.
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