When Ice Hockey Isn’t Ice Hockey, It’s Probably Broomball

Broomball16Picture a sport that’s a combination of ice hockey, field hockey and soccer, played in a hockey rink, without skates.

That’s broomball.

It’s not actually played with brooms, although that’s how it started. These days, the “broom” is a wooden or aluminum stick with a traingular-shaped rubber attachment at the end.

Players – six to a side, including a goalie – run around the ice with their brooms, trying to knock a small ball into the opposing team’s goal.

The sport’s big in Canada and popular in the cold states that border Canada, but it’s only beginning to take hold elsewhere.

Somerset resident Danny Kallenberg is doing what he can to popularize the sport in Central New Jersey, as part of a community sports league he formed about 2 1/2 years ago.

“This is the most fun I’ve had playing sports, ever,” he said.

“I work at St. Matthias Church, and I noticed there’s not a lot going on in this area for young adult men,” he said. A former college soccer and tennis player, Kallenberg decided that sports would be a good way to bring people together.

“We started out playing football, and that was a great success,” he said. “Just through a couple of fliers and church announcements, we had 34 people sign up that first season.”

“Everybody loved getting together on a weekly basis, and wanted to do something in the winter,” Kallenberg said. “I said, ‘what about broomball?'”

Umm. What?

“Everybody gave me a crazy eyed look and said, ‘what are you talking about?'” he said.

But about 18 people were willing to give it a try, Kallenberg said. That number has grown to about 40 now, he said.

Kallenberg said he was able to form two teams which generally play each other weekly from January through March. But there’s also a traveling team – the New Jersey Sweep – that plays teams from Syracuse, N.Y. to Washington, D.C.

The home rink is ProSkate on Cornwall Road in Monmouth Junction.

Broomball is part of Kallenberg’s family tradition, he said.

“Most of my relatives hail from Minnesota, and this is a huge winter sport in Minnesota as an alternative to hockey, but also in addition to hockey,” he said. “There’s a lot of crossover.”

“You don’t have to skate, so it’s a much more inclusive game in that way,” Kallenberg said. “For a lot of guys around here who didn’t grow up playing hockey, skating keeps a lot of them out of the mix.”

Another part of the sports allure, Kallenberg said, is the way it builds friendships.

“In football, winning is your number one priority,” he said. “And while we are certainly on the ice to try to win each week, we also have a lot of friendships that were made.”

Kallenberg said his teams have not yet joined the national organization – USA Broomball – but said that many of the teams they play are in it.

“But we’ll be there real soon,” he said.

He said that about 70 percent of the team members have some sort of Franklin Township connection.

“But we’ve got guys who travel in every week from New York, Philadelphia, Delaware, Connecticut to play with us,” he said.

“People love what we’ve got going,” Kallenberg said. “We have a different dynamic. Some leagues are super die-hard, win or it’s over. Some are too social. We definitely take our sports seriously, but we also take our relationships seriously.”

Broomball at ProSkate 2-1-14



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