Broomball association has big plans for its 30th year

It all began with some pick-up games during the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous Festival in the early 1980s and it hasn't stopped in three decades.

It all began with some pick-up games during the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous Festival in the early 1980s and it hasn’t stopped in three decades.

The Yukon Broomball Association is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year and has lots in store for this season and next.

In addition to its mixed league, there are plans for a trip to nationals, the world championships and returns to its roots.

“In the 30 years we’ve progressed quite a bit,” said association president Milford Allain. “We’ve gone from using neighbourhood rinks to having our own facility in Takhini. We’re the only broomball association in the world that has its own facility for broomball. We’ve done some research.

“There aren’t many places that play outside. There are some European places. Japan is another one that plays outside, but they use a community rink.

“That’s a big pat on the back for our association over the years – the dedication they’ve put into the arena and the facility.”

Yukon will be represented nationally and internationally over the next year.

The YBA intends to send a mixed team to the 2014 Senior & Mixed Nationals this April in Calgary for the first time.

The sport’s governing body in the territory is working towards sending a mixed team to the 2014 World Broomball Championships next year in Japan.

It will be the third time Yukon will be represented at the biennial world championships, having sent teams to compete at the 2008 worlds in Burnaby, B.C., and the 2010 worlds in Austria, returning with a bronze in the latter.

“There’s a committee going and they’re working hard on it now,” said Allain. “They’ll be there for the Bobby Park (tournament) in the mezzanine doing some fundraising for the event in Japan in the first week of November.”

The YBA is also planning to honour its humble beginnings.

The association will host a casual tournament during the Rendezvous festival in February. Not only will it be a return to where the Canadian-invented sport first found its footing in Yukon, it’s an opportunity for people to try it.

“We believe it was 1982 or ‘83, they got together and played broomball at Rendezvous,” said Allain. “Then they started up the league in 1984 as a society. That’s where it all began.”

“We haven’t put one on in years, so we figured we’d put on a fun one,” he added. “We’re getting together with the ball hockey group, sort of put us all together in a batch, and see what happens. It’ll be a fun tournament and everyone is welcome to come out.”

Whitehorse’s Dave Locke first picked up a broom during the original Rendezvous tournament. He went on to become the first player named MVP in the YBA league in 1984 and a former YBA president.

“It all started from there and all of a sudden people were picked up and there were teams,” said Locke. “There were a few of us at the beginning who are still out there playing, and that’s amazing.”

“It’s incredible. We’ve had an administration for 30 consecutive years,” added Locke. “It’s come a long, long way since 30 years ago.”

At first glance broomball might look a little like a hockey game in which every player coincidently forgot to bring skates. And a puck.

But there’s much more to it, says Locke.

“It’s a combination of a number of different sports and I think that’s why I fell into liking it,” said Locke. “It has a road hockey element to it. It has a basketball element to it with the positional give-and-gos … And soccer comes into play because you need to use your feet a lot. Obviously there’s a hockey end to it because you’re basically trying to do the same thing – five people on the ice trying to put it by a goalie. It’s a whole pile of sports all in one.

“The skill set is unique as well. We’ve had star hockey players come out there and not be able to do anything.”

Broomball season will kickoff with the Bob Park Opening Tournament at Takhini Arena November 22-24.

The season-opener started in 1987 as the Early Bird Classic, but, “It was changed to the Bob Park in 2006,” said Allain. “He was a good sponsor of the league.”

In honour if the YBA’s 30th anniversary this month’s Bob Park tourney will include an alumni game featuring players from early on. The game will be on the Saturday at 8 p.m.

“Any previous players who played before 1985 are welcome to come out,” said Allain. “We’re still trying to wrangle a couple previous presidents … we’re trying to get (former Yukon MP) Larry Bagnell to come out and play.

“He played for a few years and we’d like to see him come out and run around a little bit.”

Other plans for the season include sending teams to the Function in the Junction in Haines Junction, a tournament founded in 1985, and to the End of the Road Tournament in Homer, Alaska, in which a Yukon team took gold last season.

There will also be a season-closing banquet at the Mount McIntyre Rec Centre on April 5.

More information can be found at the YBA website at www.yukonbroomball.com.

This year’s mixed league, which usually includes eight teams playing about 30 games apiece, begins the week after the Bob Park.

“We’ve had some great members over the years, great teams, and a great thank you goes out to all the sponsors over the years,” said Allain. “Without them none of us non-profits would be around.

“I hope everyone comes out and tries it once in their lifetime.”

Contact Tom Patrick at

tomp@yukon-news.com

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