#7: Watch one of my sweetie’s broomball games

I’m a relatively active individual, but most of my movement endeavors (both past and present) are primarily independent activities (i.e., walking, yoga, running, rock climbing, etc.). My sweetie also maintains a physically engaged lifestyle, but his pursuits are usually team oriented (i.e., softball, basketball, soccer, etc.). Both he and I stay quite busy; along with our respective physical activities, we also maintain numerous social engagements, volunteer commitments, etc. So my sweetie and I don’t often go to events the other is attending. In some instances this is completely okay: it would be strange for my husband to just sit and observe me taking a yoga class, and likewise it would be odd for me to watch him play basketball at the small church gym where he and his buddies casually shoot hoops. But in other instances, my lack of presence is actually called out and questioned by other participants. The softball guys are most persistent (“Where’s your wife? Why doesn’t she ever come to any of the games? Doesn’t she like us?”), so this past year I made a point to attend a few of husband’s softball games. (And I was actually quite surprised by the reception I received at these events; the other players were absolutely THRILLED that I came, and made a very big deal of welcoming me and telling me that they were so happy that I was there… they were honestly more excited about me being at the game than my husband was!) While the softball men are the most vocal about wanting (and appreciating) my presence at their events, the broomball crew also asks about me every so often – in a casual, “hey-wouldn’t-it-be-kinda-cool-if-your-wife-maybe-showed-up-to-a-game?” kind of way.

I really appreciate that people want to include me in their activities (truly, I do!); and while I’m content to spend a lovely spring day or summer evening every so often watching a (quasi) great American past time, watching a broomball game is another situation entirely. For one, to me broomball seems to be kind of a made-up game. I didn’t grow up in this northern US state which I now call home, but it is one of the few places in the nation where the slightly random game called “broomball” seems to be not only accepted as normal, but rather respected. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the game of broomball, here’s a quick run down of how it’s played: Picture an ice hockey rink. Now imagine 12 hockey players on the rink (six players per team). Imagine all of their gear (padding, helmets, ice skates), and their hockey sticks, and the little black puck…. Get a really clear image in your mind.

Got it? Make sure you do before you keep reading. I’ll wait.

[Stef sipping tea, waiting patiently.]

Ready to keep going? Okay, now, change the ice skates for boots. (Seriously.) And replace the hockey sticks with plastic brooms. (Again, seriously.) And remove the small black puck, and insert an orange ball about half the size of a soccer ball. (No joke.) Make the helmets optional (yikes), and remove much of the other protective gear. Now you have broomball.

Instead of skating, broomball players run (literally run {and slide}) across the ice. Instead of driving a puck with a stick, they bat at this crazy small soccer ball with what looks like a child’s toy broom. (Honest to goodness.) I suspect if a person grew up around this sport, it all seems completely normal. But for the uninitiated like myself, broomball just appears, well, odd.

So that is Reason #1 why I haven’t ever really made a serious effort to get to a broomball game. But, there is a second, larger reason why I have avoided attending past games, and why I have not yet observed my sweetie play broomball. And that is because broomball is played in the cold. Indeed, as ice is a required element of the sport, the game is guaranteed to be played in conditions that are at freezing temperatures – or below.

I’m a small person, and the cold and I just don’t get along. I tolerate winter as best I can (usually through ample supplies of screamin’ hot coffee and tea, bulky sweatpants, temperature-rated outerwear, space heaters scattered throughout the house, and an electric heating pad on my side of the bed), but I don’t voluntarily subject myself to its brutality. (And the use of the term ‘brutal’ is not an exaggeration when it comes to describing the biting cold and punishing snow that can descend on this city.) However, I really do want to support my sweetie in a variety of ways… and as I am a naturally curious person, I really did want to see how this whole broomball thing is actually played… so I decided to go ahead and include “Watch one of my sweetie’s broomball games” on my 101 list, knowing that if I actually committed to attending a game, I would do so (versus continue to locate [or manufacture] reasons why I was too busy to make it to a game).

So last Sunday I found myself spending the early afternoon at the side of an outdoor ice rink (bundled from head to toe in as much winter gear I could put my hands on: hat, scarf, gloves with additional hand warmers inside them, coat that went down to my calves, boots, and fleece/thermal clothing underneath it all) watching my sweetie (and eleven other adults) running and sliding on ice, batting at/nudging/coaxing a small orange ball near (or attempting to keep it away from) a hockey net.

This coat (indeed, this whole ensemble) is wildly obnoxious, but I really don't care. It's wonderfully warm - and that is my primary concern. :)

I will say that I could not have picked a better winter day to observe the game. While the outdoor air temp was only 19 degrees (F), the sun shined brightly, so the day felt a bit warmer than it actually was. And as it was a Sunday (versus a week night), all of the players seemed to be a bit more relaxed and in good spirits (versus feeling moody and trying to release residual stresses that can manifest at the end of a long work day) – so the game play itself was cordial and friendly versus competitive and fierce (which, unfortunately, I have witnessed on more than one occasion). My sweetie’s teammates were pleased that they had a fan in the crowd (the other team had several supporters on the sidelines), and everyone was genuinely kind to me. (Not that anyone would be unkind or anything like that; I just thought the players might be more indifferent to me because of being more focused on the game.) While I did pay attention to everyone on the ice, and cheered/offered encouragement at appropriate times, what I enjoyed most was seeing my sweetie in action.

My husband played some sports as a boy/adolescent/young adult. While he was never a varsity athlete in his youth (at least, not that I’m aware of), he now absolutely possesses solid sporting skills (ball control, passing ability, knowledge of how to play both offensively and defensively) that translate into most any game. As I watched my sweetie on the ice, I saw his eyes constantly scanning the entire field of play, attempting to predict the actions of the other team, and assessing what his next move should be as a result. I observed him confidently challenge other men, and hold his ground when the game got a little physical. I witnessed him expending strong, determined energy, yet quickly return to his more relaxed, easy going self as soon as he came off the ice and onto the sideline. I got to see a side of him that I don’t often view, and I must admit I was impressed. I’m married to a jock! Who would have predicted that?! ;)

In the end, my husband’s team lost the game 3-2 (though, to be fair, they played three-quarters of the game short one person – so I think they did a fantastic job, all things considered), but the official score is just a bunch of numbers. The final quantity of goals doesn’t tell the story of the real heart exhibited during the game – and the qualitative experience is what I will remember when I think back on the bright, beautiful January day when I got to witness my sweetie as a strong athlete: playing smart, playing hard, and loving every minute of it.

Stef

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About Stef

A "serious" gal who is trying to remember to lighten up and smile.
This entry was posted in 101 in 1001, day zero project, postaday and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to #7: Watch one of my sweetie’s broomball games

  1. broomball is tons of fun. I played often in my teens. Now I’m more the sit inside with a hot cup of tea fan! you look ready for a Canadian winter in your outfit, btw.

    • Stef says:

      I’m not that far from the Canadian border; that coat was seriously one of the smartest purchases I ever made. I only wished I got it in black instead of red. Oh well. ;)

  2. narami says:

    The descriptions of everything here are amazing but I HAVE to see some ‘broomball’ game vids, I’ll search them later, I’m so curious! :)
    Loved this!

  3. Touch2Touch says:

    Only in Minnesota?
    Next up, Quidditch!

    • Stef says:

      As I did a bit of broomball research, I learned that it’s a popular sport in Wisconsin and Canada, too. ;) But I *love* your Quidditch reference; hilarious! I will never look at broomball the same way again… :)

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