Miami University’s club broomball team became National Champions in USA Broomball’s C Class on April 9 in Delmont, Pennsylvania.
The sixteen club members who made the five-hour drive went 3-0 in class play to enter bracket play seeded first. The team led during the entirety of the tournament, won semifinals and then beat the New Jersey Saints 3-0 to become National Champions.
“We’re just out there to have fun,” President and captain junior Michael Dzoba said. “We’re extremely competitive, we’re all best friends. So, it was just a great time playing broomball – it doesn’t get much better than that.”
Broomball is played similarly to hockey, with a goalie, three forwards and two defensemen on the ice at once. Players wear special shoes with a pattern on the bottom to increase traction on the ice and use a stick with a molded head to hit a six-inch diameter ball. The nets are six-by-eight feet – two feet larger than standard hockey nets – and the games are two 15-minute halves long.
Miami’s club broomball team started in 2008 and has been National Champions in USA Broomball’s Collegiate Class in 2008, 2013 and 2016. This year, the team advanced to the C Class with their 17-0-1 regular season record. The national tournament didn’t have a collegiate division this year but Miami played similarly skilled teams. After meeting their goal of becoming a competitive program in the C Class during this season, Miami still looks to advance to the more competitive B Class next year.
The unrestricted competitive men’s team’s players range from ex-hockey players to those who have only been playing broomball for a year – Miami’s club welcomes all skill levels, though it only travelled with the men’s team to Nationals.
Cassidy Guthrie is a senior, the Vice President of the club and the only girl on Miami’s competitive team. She’s won a national championship with Miami’s Division 1 women’s club hockey, but found broomball as a fun alternative to the physicality and greater time commitment of hockey. Guthrie played last year on the collegiate team and an exception was made at Nationals this year for her to play on the men’s team.
“I was low-key nervous, which is really funny because it’s just broomball,” Guthrie, the winger, said. “I’ve been used to being a high-level player on most of the teams I’ve been on, because I’m a pretty hard worker and I understand the strategy of ice sports really well. This year with our team, I’m definitely one of the weaker players and I know I’m one of the weaker players and I got in my head going into the tournament. I was nervous I was going to let down my line-mates.”
Miami’s team claims to be the fastest and youngest, as USA Broomball teams in the A, B, C and D class include adults who have been playing for 20+ years.
“We performed really well and we’re really looking forward to playing next year,” junior winger Zach Sibert said. “I think we could get another championship again – hopefully moving up to the B class.”
The competitive team drives 40 minutes to play in a Cincinnati broomball league every Sunday and uses Miami’s intramural league to practice, since ice time is hard to come by. The entire club practices 11 or 12 times a year and starts their season with open ice opportunities. Anyone can join, but Dzoba optimistically expects a need for try-outs next year – the program’s ninth year on campus.
Any collegiate team can compete at Nationals, but teams in other classes have to apply to play, then the teams with better records are chosen to compete. This year, Miami’s almost undefeated record could have lent itself to assuredness of victory entering the National tournament.
“What we really needed to do was not get over our own heads and just play our own game,” Sibert said. “It’s easy because we do really well in the Cincinnati broomball league, but we don’t want to get too ahead of ourselves. We weren’t always going to be the best team during every game we play, but we wanted to play on our level, not on every team we play’s level.”
Like any other team, captains spoke strategy before the championship game and drew up plays on a whiteboard. The team’s seniors thought about their time with the program, Dzoba and Guthrie thought of a year’s worth of club sport organization and applications for funding and the entire team thought of achieving their goal to be more competitive this season.
With a C Class National Championship title, that goal has been met.
“As a whole, our program has a ton to be proud of,” Guthrie said. “Even though we are competing in a silly sport called broomball.”