September/October 2018

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USICERINKS.COM SEPTEMBER.OCTOBER.2018 / 41 Especially in recent years, broomball has been sweeping the nation. Forming a uniform body Denesen has seen firsthand how much the sport has progressed. An avid intramural broomball player in high school, he went on to play in the City of Richfield recreation league and in various state tournaments. Denesen couldn't stay away from the ice. His broomball team got faster and more competitive. He and his teammates added more and more tournaments to their schedules. But for Denesen and others, playing a team from a different area could mean the two teams would be playing by dif- ferent rules. There needed to be some form of organization. In 1999, the Minnesota Sports Federation—a nonprofit organization that conducts recreational-amateur sports activities in Minnesota—formed USA Broomball. "Perry Coonce, Dave St. Aubin and a few other people formed a commit- tee to make USA Broomball exist, and then put together a national tournament which is now the national tournament that it is now," Denesen said. "It was kind of a grassroots effort from one state governing body, a private non- profit, to kind of organize this. There needed to be some sort of uniformity in the national program. That's how it started. Then it got popular, and so the MSF has maintained USA broomball all this time." Each state has its own broomball governing body, typically run by its city parks and recreation program or privately. USA Broomball exists to keep the game uniform. Teams in New York play by the same rules as players from Minnesota or North Dakota. Those players typically range from ages 18 to 45. As required by USA Broomball, they're obligated to have specialized broomball shoes, an approved helmet and a broomball stick to maneuver the six-inch diameter ball. Many also choose to wear padding, gloves, a face protector and mouth guard. For liability reasons, equip- ment has to be commercial- ly produced by a broomball manufacturer. The national spotlight A highlight of the broom- ball season is playing in the national championships, which Denesen helps run every year. "A celebration of every state," he calls it. It's a way for leagues all around the country to come together. Teams are separated after pool play and divisions range from a lower rec division up to Class A, the highest division. Since it's open registration, a team doesn't necessarily have to quality to get into nationals; instead it can register. Depending on the facility for nationals, USA Broomball gets anywhere from 38 to 60 teams which typically compete with six players on the ice at a time, including one goalie. "Consistently, with our numbers in nationals, we have to turn teams away—which we don't like to do, but it's due to ice availability," Denesen said. "Obviously, when we have it in Minnesota, where it's a hockey state, you're always dealing with ice time com- petition, when we can get a facility, how many rinks we have, and for how long. The duration of time limits the number of teams we can take. We usually sell out the number of tournaments, depending on the number of slots allotted." Minnesota is a frequent host of the national tournament, but USA Broomball will often receive requests from other loca- tions with a broomball presence. A change of scenery is often welcomed. "That's why we went to Pittsburgh a few years ago, because we know the east coast continues to be pretty popular with broom- ball," Denesen said. "We don't like to make all the teams go to Minnesota every year for Nationals, so we try to bring it out and move around a little as much as we can. "We're going to be in North Dakota for Nationals in 2019, and there are volunteers there that are exceptional and care about the sport," Denesen said. "So, they get involved with the Convention and Visitors Bureau, and they put a proposal to get nationals in that area. If it's place where broomball exists, we'll consider it." Denesen said he has seen a sig- nificant amount of growth in the nearly two decades he's been a part of USA Broomball. From leagues contacting USA Broomball inquiring about how to start a broomball league in their community, , USA Broomball has between 38-60 teams across the U.S. each season. "IT'S REALLY JUST A CULT SPORT. IT'S ONE OF THOSE WHERE IF YOU TRY IT, YOU'RE HOOKED ON IT. WATCHING IT YOU'RE LIKE, 'I DON'T KNOW, I MIGHT GET HURT.' BUT ONCE YOU PLAY IT, THE REACTION IS, 'MAN, I LOVE THIS GAME; THIS GAME IS AWESOME." —KEVIN DENESEN

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