Another broomball season is nearly in the books.
For dozens of SUNY Cortland students, their most important Thursday night plans consist of sliding across the Alumni Arena ice rink in sneakers — potentially wiping out — in search of intramural sports glory.
Broomball has been a part of the intramural sports rotation at SUNY Cortland since the mid-1980s and its season, which started early in the spring semester, wraps up this week.
The sport is similar in many ways to ice hockey, just slightly less dangerous. Sporting team t-shirts, helmets and sneakers, participants slip and slide around the ice using brooms similar to hockey sticks, with the objective to land a small ball in the back of the net.
And it’s the reason for plenty of late-night fun at SUNY Cortland, with games that start at 9 p.m. and go past midnight.
Still, despite a schedule built for night owls, broomball is one of the more popular intramural sports on campus, according to Matthew Nuesell, the assistant director of recreational sports, intramural sports and sports clubs. More than 60 teams participated this year, and as many as 100 squads have laced up their sneakers in the past.
During a typical year, as many as 1,100 students are involved with co-ed teams made up of 12 athletes — six males and six females. Like most intramural sports, broomball is offered at two different levels: recreational, for less competitive participants looking to have fun, and all-school, for more competitive squads.
The league consists of a round-robin schedule, with teams sorted into divisions and competing against divisional opponents. At the end of round-robin play, all teams whose members have maintained a high sportsmanship rating qualify for the playoffs, which involve a single-elimination tournament to determine a champion at each level.
The ultimate prize? Pride. And t-shirts for the whole team.
Alumni Arena is filled with students most late Thursday nights during the winter. There’s a sense of camaraderie among students. If they aren’t there to play, they’re waiting to play and cheering on their classmates.
Sean Faulkner, a senior from Penfield, N.Y., has enjoyed the broomball experience for four years. His current team is named the Money Mayweathers, named after Floyd Mayweather, the famous boxer.
“The amount of fun I have on the ice is what draws me to broomball,” said Faulkner, explaining he enjoys the many wipe outs of his teammates and the rare penalty shot. “You never know who is going to fall down (or) when.”
And the late night schedule is ideal.
“I prefer it that way, because my days are usually so busy,” he said.
For students who can’t commit most Thursday nights of the spring semester to the intramural sport, a Friday Night Broomball Tournament takes place annually in the fall. Twelve teams can participate in the one-night tournament, which is typically offered in mid- to late October.
“Our team doesn’t necessarily put up desirable numbers, but we are grinders and we leave our heart and soul on the ice every game,” Faulkner said. “There will always be a part of me out on that ice.”
Besides hundreds of passionate participants, the most crucial part of the league is the intramural sports staff, according to Nuesell. The entire staff is made up of roughly 40 undergraduate and graduate students who serve as officials, scorekeepers and supervisors. The trained students make it possible for the College to host a jam-packed schedule for one of its most popular intramural sports.
“Without the staff, we wouldn’t be able to give Cortland students half the opportunities that they currently have,” Nuesell said. “It’s a tough job and they don’t often get the credit they deserve for doing the job that they do.”
For more information on intramural sports, contact Nuesell.