Broomball’s draw linked to uniqueness

Imagine a game played at 2 a.m. in the morning, on ice, without skates. Now throw in a broom-like stick and a soccer ball.

Welcome to broomball, one of the most popular team sports of all intramural activities offered at Iowa State.

A total of 326 teams have signed up to participate in what seems to be a recreational version of ice hockey.

“I think what makes the game [broomball] popular is that it is so unique,” Linda Marticke, Intramural Coordinator for Recreation Services, said. “The students enjoy the late games and the relaxed atmosphere.”

Marticke said broomball started at Iowa State around 1969 when ISU hockey coach Al Murdoch introduced the game to the intramural staff.

The game is played with six people on a team and is similar to ice hockey without the contact.

Players wear shoes instead of skates and use a broom-like stick to hit a soccer ball into a goal.

“When broomball first started, we had to make an ice rink outside where Howe Hall now stands,” Marticke said.

“We moved inside when the ice arena was built, and now with the new arena everything should run even smoother.”

The new Ames/ISU Ice Arena will be cleaner, warmer and have better seating arrangements for broomball players and spectators Marticke said. Running scoreboards will try to be implemented this year as well.

The broomball season began Tuesday night and will continue until Dead Week.

The season is split into two sections due to the large number of teams, with half of the teams playing now and the rest beginning in November, Marticke said.

“The number of teams participating in broomball has seen a steady increase over the years,” Marticke said. “If you add up fall and spring participants the numbers reach 500-plus teams compared to flag football which has around 286 teams.”

Rachel Rysdam, sophomore in family and children services, registered a team for the second-straight year. Rysdam is a member of the Owens House squad, which played Wednesday night.

“The fun thing about broomball is that you don’t have to be athletic to play, you just have to be willing to make a fool of yourself,” Rysdam said.

Rysdam’s teammate Kristin Garrett, sophomore in psychology and environmental studies, said she likes broomball because the bruises she gets from falling down make her feel like a real athlete.

“I had a bruise the size of a softball on my knee last year,” Garrett said. “Everybody falling down and being clumsy on the ice makes the game fun.”

Marticke said the game is meant to be more fun and less competitive.

“No one can say they are an excellent broomball player because everyone out there is trying to keep their balance and not fall down,” Marticke said. “Everyone is on an equal playing level, and that is what makes the game different.”