After a series of unsuccessful attempts to curb damage to the ice, the athletics department has decided to ban broomball from the hockey rink.
According to Ben Lamb, associate director for student involvement at the Office of Student Life, the decision came from concern about the safety of the ice for hockey players following broomball tournaments. The Athletic Department fears that the damage to the ice caused by dirt from shoes being frozen into it could cause skaters to trip and fall.
“Salt and dirt from shoes has continually gotten on the ice, which then embeds itself in when the zamboni runs over it,” Lamb said. “When a skate then hits these small pieces of stone and dirt, it ruins the blade and could cause injury to the skater. For several years attempts have been made to make people clean their shoes and such, but the issue has continued.”
According to Robert Fisher, interim director of athletics and physical education, students in past years have been asked to clean their shoes before going onto the ice or to bring a clean change of shoes with them to the tournament, but despite these efforts dirt and salt debris have become embedded in the rink. This year, the persistence of the problem has caused the rink to be off-limits to broomball tournaments.
“We have tried asking players to bring shoes that they did not wear to the rink to play with,” Fisher said. “We have tried placing a bucket of water so that players can clean their shoes before stepping on the ice.
“None of these efforts have worked. The dirt and sand from street shoes is deposited on the ice. It is especially dangerous when it lodges in the small skate marks in the ice and is then frozen into the ice layer by the zamboni. This dirt ruins the skate blades and can create dangerous situations for skaters,” Fisher said.
Broomball itself is not banned on campus, but if students wish to continue the tradition, they will have to find another rink to play in as the decision to ban broomball from the hockey rink will not be reversed. Suggestions have included the creation of a temporary rink in Towne Field House or an outdoor rink on Paresky lawn. However, Lamb is skeptical that unless students take action soon, it is unlikely that a consensus on a new location will be reached in time for Winter Study, when broomball tournaments usually take place.
Fisher is hopeful that the rink’s unavailability won’t spell the end for broomball. “I hope we can find a place and the interest to play it outside,” said Fisher. “I hope plans to find another alternative are serious. I think the activity is good one for our students and I hope that Student Life will be able to work with Facilities to build a temporary outside ice rink for this purpose. It is my understanding that this is how broomball is played on other campuses.”