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Behind the scenes of Broomball: What it takes to put on one of Michigan Tech’s favorite winter traditions

Beginning as a Winter Carnival tradition in the late 1950s, broomball has evolved into one of Michigan Tech’s most popular winter activities. With 2,111 Michigan Tech students participating on 263 teams, broomball requires extensive planning and support to ensure a successful season. According to the Vice Chair of the Broomball Committee, Andrew Maiers, “preparation starts during the first week of fall semester” as there is “a lot to be done.” Tasks for the committee include setting up and maintaining the three rinks which are used for broomball games and hiring a staff that includes approximately 40 broomball referees, 80 cocoa shack workers, and 72 rink personnel. With 17 members, the Broomball Committee is well-equipped to handle the difficulties they may encounter. However, that does not mean they are exempt from facing their fair share of challenges.

As former players may recognize, the Broomball Committee runs a website where it keeps track of team schedules, standings, and player registration. Unfortunately, the code that supports their former website is no longer supported, requiring the committee to recreate their entire website. The Committee hired five web developers to get the website up and running, but even with the support, Maiers noted that, “We are rushing to finish the last of the features before the season starts.” Another challenge the Committee faces is addressing referee shortages as a majority of the refs who sign up to facilitate games back out of the commitment before the broomball season begins. To mitigate this issue, the Broomball Committee increased pay to $12 an hour for new refs and $12.15 an hour for returning refs. The raise wasn’t an easy decision for the committee to make as they had to balance the increase in referee pay rates with an increase in player fees. When making such a delicate decision, Maiers stressed that the committee, “wants to make Broomball accessible as possible because we all know how much it costs to be a college student.”

Like most winter activities, broomball’s success is highly weather-dependent, meaning that preparations for this year were especially demanding. To flood the rinks with water, the Committee needs a 3-inch snow base. With little snow and abnormally warm temperatures in December, the Committee had to wait until the weekend before the second semester to begin ice-making. According to Maiers, “Rink staff is currently working every night to put more layers of ice down, as each layer makes the ice smoother and more playable.” The late start forced the Committee to push their traditional Tuesday kickoff back a week, which will result in playoffs beginning the week after Spring Break as opposed to their finish before Spring Break. Ultimately, the efforts of the Broomball Committee will finally come to fruition when they officially kick off the 2024 Broomball season on Tuesday, January, 16th at 5:00 p.m. with the annual Ball Drop ceremony.

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