The UNL Broomball team won the American Broomball Alliance Collegiate National Championship on April 24 after competing in the National Championship tournament in Minnesota from April 21-24.
The championship has been long-awaited by the athletes for the last three years, as the 2019 tournament was canceled due to a snow blizzard. The 2020 and 2021 tournaments were canceled due to COVID-19.
Broomball is similar to hockey, but the athletes use shoes instead of skates, “brooms” (a stick with a cap at the end of it) instead of hockey sticks, and a ball instead of an ice hockey puck. Like hockey, broomball is played on ice, and the rule sets are nearly identical.
The tournament was especially meaningful to the four seniors on the team, who became very close the last four years.
Senior Ryan Yetts who’s originally from Omaha was ecstatic about the win but was disappointed the season was over.
“We’ve definitely felt like we deserved it the last couple of seasons, but it’s kind of sad that I won’t be able to look forward to playing games with these guys anymore,” Yetts said.
The team was driven by seniority leadership over the last four years. Yetts was the team leader in goals the last two seasons and credits his success to having a fun outlet.
“I never took it very seriously, and I think that’s why I was able to play well and enjoy the games,” Yetts said. “It’s just a nice break from school and responsibilities every week.”
The team practices every Wednesday during the season, and each Sunday the games are played in Omaha, where the team often collaborates and switches out players with the Omaha league to expand their roster and have more opportunities for Sunday games.
Gavin Harding, a junior at UNL and a key member of the broomball team’s offense, said that driving down to Omaha on Sundays is often the highlight of his week.
“I wouldn’t call it bonding because we’re already all friends, but just listening to music in the car ride and telling jokes on the way to Omaha is unbeatable,” Harding said.
Harding also felt similar to Yetts about the seriousness of the sport.
“There’s a couple people in the league who just take it way too seriously, and I feel like that just can’t be very fun,” Harding said. “I played hockey my entire life, and it’s just fun for me to be on the ice again.”
Harding plans on playing in the league next year, even though most of his friends are leaving the team.
“It obviously won’t be the same without Yettie (Ryan Yetts) or any of those guys, but I think we’ll have a good time next year regardless and I know we’ll still be able to win games,” Harding said.
Although Yetts and the seniors won’t be able to compete with the team in games anymore, Yetts and many other Nebraska alumni who played broomball are considering forming a “superteam” of all the best broomball players from previous years and playing in a separate tournament each season.
“We already got the shirts designed and everything. We’re just waiting for approval from the ABA to get the team together and hopefully we’ll be able to compete against some good teams,” Yetts said.