There is good and bad news regarding the upcoming Friday night Broomball League season in Soldotna.
We’ll start with the bad news, which is the league format has been ditched due to lower interest levels.
The good news is that broomball is still very much a go on Friday nights, and anyone can join in when they have the time.
Seeing that the number of teams that had signed on for a one-month season was less than expected, Soldotna Parks and Recreation assistant director Joel Todd decided that the league would be dropped and Friday nights would instead be a drop-in event.
“It’s for anyone that was halfway or fully committed, and people who are gung-ho about showing up,” Todd said.
Starting tonight at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex, anyone interested in playing, learning or rekindling their interest in the sport can show up from 8 to 10 p.m. The games, which Todd said hopes to run two at a time, will be held every Friday from today to Jan. 5, a six-week run with an affordable cost of $5 to play. Originally, the plan was to charge $40 a month for individuals and $400 per team.
Todd said players who show up will be sorted into two teams right on the spot, and equipment can be rented for those that don’t already own it. Multi-impact helmets are required to participate, but one of the allures of broomball is the lack of equipment, making it a much more affordable sport than its hockey cousin.
“That opens up that door for the casual player to try it out,” Todd said. “Hopefully we can build on this and build the community up.”
A Canadian-born outdoor sport that planted domestic roots in Minnesota in the 1930s, broomball caters to the hockey fans and casual winter recreationists searching for another way to get ice time. Instead of skates, pads, sticks and pucks, broomball players break out shoes, broomball sticks and game balls.
“Where I grew up, it used to be a P.E. sport,” Todd said. ‘We used to have a rink next to (Soldotna) high school … it’s just a good way to get your buddies out, get some exercise and have some fun.”
Todd said he hopes to reignite a true broomball league with weekly games between six to eight teams by next spring or winter 2018.
“The holidays are tough for people to commit,” he said when asked why the number of teams for this winter season didn’t reach the numbers he expected. “We were just on the edge of locking that in.”
Todd said he was hoping for six to eight coed teams of six players each, bringing the total number of players up to at least 36. He added that a group had been holding outdoor practices at Arc Lake, just south of Soldotna, and the city of Soldotna has plowed the snow to create a pair of hockey “rinks” and an additional skating path around the lake.
While broomball has certainly had a peninsula presence over the years — the Kenai Peninsula Outdoor Club has hosted games at Arc Lake in the past, as has the Kenai Multi-Purpose Facility — Todd said this winter was to be the first to feature an actual league that pits teams against each other on a former basis.
For now, though, the Friday night meet-ups will be enough.
“College kids will be coming home, we think we’ll be getting them to come out,” he said. “But anyone can jump out there, you don’t have to be a part of something, you can just take advantage of the ice and winter activities.”