Broomball tournament to sweep U-I campus

When Katie Kennedy and Alex Budden visited the St. John’s Hospital in Springfield last year, they expected to learn more about Children’s Miracle Network— their sorority, Phi Mu’s, national philanthropy. After all, each year the sorority plans a variety of activities and events for the children in the hospital. What they did not expect was to meet the founder of Phi Mu’s most popular fundraising event.

“At the hospital, we met a nurse (Meghan McFarland) who asked us what sorority we were from,” Kennedy said. “When we told her Phi Mu, she told us she was actually the founder of the Broomball Tournament.”

Kennedy, the former philanthropy head of Phi Mu and a junior in LAS, is referring to the Annual Broomball Tournament that has been taking place at the University’s ice-skating rink every spring since the late 1990s.

What used to be a tennis tournament has been replaced by the popular Canadian ice game. This year, the Broomball Tournament will take place over seven non-consecutive days, from Feb. 20 though March 1. Teams comprised of six players pay $90 to compete in 30 minute games, with a single game elimination rule.

The rules otherwise are not hard to follow.

“It’s kind of like hockey but you wear shoes,” Kennedy said. “Also, you’ve got a ball instead of a puck.”

Players, however, do not use an actual “broom,” as suggested by the name. Instead, a stick with a wooden or aluminum shaft and a rubber-molded triangular head is used.

Because players do not wear ice-skating shoes, the game itself can often become chaotic.

“People get really into it, fights break out,” said Budden, sophomore in LAS and the current philanthropy head of Phi Mu. “A lot of the guys have their own strategies.”

Beyond the highly-energized tournament, teams know that they are playing for a charitable cause.

With 50 teams (300 people) participating last year, over $8,000 was raised.

“We even had the Air Force ROTC and a couple of dorm floors participate,” Kennedy said, referring to the number of non-Greek organizations that participated in the tournament.

Even for Greek houses that partake in a number of philanthropic events throughout the school year, the tournament is a highlight.

Zach Dahl, president of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity at the University, can testify.

“It’s definitely one of the more fun ones (philanthropic events),” Dahl said, whose house will be sending two teams to the tournament.

This will mark the first year that Dahl himself will be participating in the Broomball Tournament, despite having played the game in the past.

“I hope to get the trophy back through teamwork and fun,” Dahl said, referring to the trophy his fraternity earned in 2008 for winning the tournament.

Aside from the bonding among the teams during the tournament, Dahl and his fraternity brothers said it serves as a good chance for them to bond with others outside the house.

“Coaching will motivate them,” said Eddy Jimenez, vice president of Pi Kappa Phi.

During the tournament, Phi Mu members, in groups of three to four people, are sent to each participating team as coaches.

“It’s a good idea, definitely more fun,” Dahl said. “It adds some social aspect to the tournament.” Kennedy said while she sees the “coaching” more along the lines of “cheerleading,” she knows one thing for sure: she wants to continue bringing the excitement and raising more money for the event. “I like to see people get excited about it,” Kennedy said. “A lot of the guys in frats will ask about it months in advance.”