March 28th marks the 30th anniversary of the Yukon Broomball Association.
“We’ve come a long way from our humble beginnings playing on local community rinks,” says Scott Smith, the association’s travel team coach. “We outgrew the community rinks pretty quickly, causing us to build two outdoor rinks in the Takhini North neighbourhood. They were pretty crude – they had square corners, they weren’t official size, there was no glass or player’s doors, but they served us really well for a period and their presence really helped us grow interest in the sport.”
Now they’ve got a covered outdoor rink that is a standard NHL size and the association has swelled big enough to populate six teams for league play. And as it turns out, all ages are interested in this game with a kind of a broom.
“We’ve seen a lot of younger members join – lots of families bring their kids to the sport and they end up sticking with it and joining the league as teenagers,” says Smith. “There is a national campaign called BF2 – Broomball For Fun – targeting nine to fourteen year olds which we are actively engaged in.”
The league’s annual playoffs took place the week of March 17th, but that doesn’t mean their activities have wrapped up for the season, yet. Over the Easter weekend a mixed team of 15 will travel to Homer, Alaska to participate in the End of the Road tournament.
“We’re really excited to take part,” says Smith, “In the past, teams from Homer have travelled to Whitehorse to take part in our Northern Cup tournament, so we’re thrilled to return the favour.”
There’s some real, potent love for broomball driving the teams to conference in Alaska and around the world. The team from Bethel, Alaska, for example, are on their way to the Easter weekend tournament and the only way in and out of their community is by plane.
Next there will be a tournament in the first week of April in Haines Junction. And then the Yukon broomballers are looking at travelling even farther afield; they will be sending a mixed team to the International Federation of Broomball Association’s World Championships in Japan in 2014.
“We’ve sent teams to two previous world championships,” says Smith. “The first was in Vancouver in 2008… a mixed team and a masters (over 35) team. We got schooled a bit, but it was still a great experience. Then in 2010 we sent a mixed team to Innsbruck, Austria and brought home the bronze.”
If you haven’t tried broomball, yet, perhaps you should try it out during the league’s anniversary year.
“We are always looking for new players, whether you’re a beginner, an experienced player, a youth…we have a place for you in our programs,” Smith says.
If you would like to get involved in broomball check out their website at www.yukonbroomball.com or email [email protected]
Amber Church is a painter, writer and sports enthusiast. You can reach her at [email protected].