Broomball on the brink: Popular intramural sweeps up mess with hopes of improvement

Ian Larsen and Alan Fearns/Sun Star Reporter
December 4, 2012

It’s 20 degrees below zero and students slide across the outdoor ice rink chasing a small ball with their broom-like sticks in hand, each team hoping to score a goal on the other. This is what the most popular student intramural sport at UAF has resorted to in order to keep the sport alive.

The orange mini ball is out of reach of all the broomball teammates. Oct. 30, 2012. David Spindler/Sun Star

Last spring semester, the broomball fee increased from $7 to $27, in order to cover the cost of cleaning the ice and the time the Nanook hockey team lost in the rink. This fee increase caused many students to boycott the intramural in attempts to get the fee lowered. The strike did not lower the fee back to its original price but it has caused the UAF Department of Recreation, Adventure and Wellness and students to look for ways to make the game available again.

Facility Services would not negotiate the price with UAF, which lead them to build an outdoor rink by the Student Recreation Center. The new outdoor rink has lowered the fee back to $7, but now students have to decide if they can handle playing in below zero temperatures.

Peekaboo Ponies team captain, Walter Disarro says he does not mind playing in the extreme conditions.

“It brings more fun and intense games, I feel proud to be playing a 20 below,” Disarro said, a long time player of 7 years, over a phone interview.

But not everyone is stoked about the new rink.

“The new outside rink is a joke and a way for the university to say they gave it a shot. Their shot is insulting,” said Matthew Nyholm, a psychology student via email.  “Broomball is on the brink of failure.”

Student Organization Coordinator Josh Hovis has played broomball at UAF for five years, and even though the intramural sport has had its ups and downs, he continues to play. During last year’s spring semester, Hovis said he and his friends had to drive over to the Big Dipper’s outdoor rink if they wanted to play.

For the fall semester Hovis and his team have played six games at the indoor rink for the first quarter and nine games outside during the second quarter when the outdoor rink became available.

“Playing inside is nicer, there are walls and it has a penalty box, but having an outdoor rink on campus is pretty awesome,” Hovis said.

UAF student Bryson DeRonde, a 6-year broomball player embraces the new change of leadership he said. Kaydee Miller, the SRC Wellness Coordinator has gotten more gear, new referees and has increased involvement with students, DeRonde said.

Although the management and involvement has gotten better, DeRonde’s team was discouraged from playing in the second quarter due to the matches taking place outside. DeRonde and most his teammates realized the Patty Center could not stay open at the low cost and decided to continue playing broomball throughout the strike with one other team.

“The outdoor rink is smaller, uneven, has no walls and is in the dark,” DeRonde said. “The construction crews kind of just threw it down with out any real thought behind it.”

However, DeRonde has seen broomball involvement increase since the outdoor rink was put into place. During the first quarter of fall semester about six teams paid the $27 fee to play, about 16 teams joined in for quarter two of fall semester when the fee was only 7 dollars, even though they had to play outside.

DeRonde suggests nets or boards behind the goals, making the rink longer and good music to improve upon the outdoor conditions.

“We shoot hard and don’t really feel like running after balls that end up in the road or the field,” DeRonde said.

Being a referee and broomball player for seven years, DiSarro has not embraced the new changes quite yet.

“I understand the circumstances and they are justified, but its been a painful process,” DiSarro said. “It’s ridiculous that we can’t get a reduced service from facility services.”

DiSarro thinks the new rink is an entirely different step in the right direction compared to the strike and fee increase, and feels that the program needs improvement for the spring semester.

Even though the outdoor rink has a feel of friendlier competition between teams the lack of outdoor lights and rink walls is a big safety concern, DiSarro said. DiSarro’s time with the program has been a positive experience overall but he suggests that students and Facilities Services work out a better plan in order to bring the now sub-zero sport back inside to thaw.

Currently, DeRonde is speaking with Miller about an indoor season, and hopes for one in the near future if enough students are willing.

“This is a student university and should be up for helping its students with problems,” DiSarro said.

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1 Response

  1. Christopher L Young says:

    I wonder how much money it cost the university to build an outdoor rink versus how much it would have cost to keep broomball fees the same and eat the difference from facilities services.

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