The Student News Site of Bethel University

The Clarion

The Student News Site of Bethel University

The Clarion

The Student News Site of Bethel University

The Clarion

Return to the rink

After a three-week freeze in the intramural broomball season, the traditional Bethel event continues in an untraditional fashion.
Kathryn Kovalenko
Senior Travis Jensen extends his stick and approaches the ball in an attempt to knock it away from the opposing team. Team “What’s Broomball?” finishes the game just short of victory over team “Leave Broom for Jesus” in a 1-1 tie.

Brady Botterill tightly clutched her stick while carefully darting left and right across the rink. As she neared the opposing side, the ball bounced off her as she slid on both knees — directly into a tangle of standing water and jagged pieces of ice. Standing up, her gray sweatpants were now six shades darker. The small lake that once resembled a broomball rink — ideal for both pickup games and picking up new friends– was the truest testament of one thing: This year, Minnesota was too warm for broomball.

Minnesota is known for frigid winters, but lately has consisted of far less parka-wearing, finger-freezing days and an abundance of no-coat, spring-like days. So far in 2024, temperatures have soared well above freezing as high as 57 degrees in the beginning of February. According to Minnesota Public Radio, the temperature has hit 50 degrees or higher for 13 days so far this winter.

In a typical winter, the broomball season would begin during interim and last until mid-February. Teams played on three different outdoor rinks, two off campus (Perry Park and Hazelnut Park) and one on campus. The 2024 broomball season kicked off as usual as students came back from winter break, but games were canceled in the first week due to extreme cold. Games the following week resumed as usual. As temperatures began to rise and the ice started to melt in the third week, games were canceled and the broomball season came to a hard stop. 

“It was kind of hard because there was a period of time … I think two weeks where we just didn’t know what was gonna happen next,” said Botterill, who plays while also serving as intramural director.

Throughout interim, students became impatient waiting to find out how the season would proceed. Many approached the members of Bethel Student Government and gave their suggestions of how to resolve the problem.

When you think of Bethel, people think of broomball.

— Brandt Botterill

“I think it’s been a bummer for most people that it’s just not a regular season,” junior broomball player for team “2019 Blues” Anissa Lee said.

Botterill and the rest of the intramural leadership team weighed different options of how to continue with the broomball season. Although canceling the season was on the table, Bethel Student Government wanted to do its best to avoid cancellation. After the brief hiatus, broomball games were able to resume play Feb. 12.

Bethel Student Government decided to start the broomball season back up by renting out indoor ice rinks for about an hour at a time. The rinks are split in half so two games can run at the same time.

“I actually really enjoyed [the indoor rink], but it was definitely different than what I was used to,” Lee said.

The indoor broomball rinks are located in Shoreview and White Bear Lake, both within ten minutes of campus, but the downfall is the lack of community and crowd that broomball games typically attract.

“Now it’s 10 minutes away, which in the grand scheme of things isn’t that much of a difference, but it just adds more of a barrier. So it kind of disconnects broomball from the university since it’s no longer on campus,” said broomball referee and player for “Broom Service” Brandt Botterill.

Freshman Eli Berg pushes around his opponent, aiming to score on the other team. Berg returned to the ice for the first time since the beginning of the intramural season, experiencing the game in a new way. “I think it’s such a fun way just to connect with people and take a break from school,” junior Anissa Lee said. (Kathryn Kovalenko)

​​Although the commute brings challenges, Botterill says there is definitely a positive side to utilizing indoor rinks. The ice is consistently slicker than outdoor rinks, where the texture varies based on the weather conditions. Another perk of the indoor rinks is the temperature — still cold, but not as cold as the outdoors in typical broomball seasons.

“The rinks are in great condition and it’s not freezing cold outside. It’s a really cool environment,” Botterill said.

Without the outdoor rink on Bethel’s campus, students are less likely to go watch other teams or make the 10-minute trek to support their friends, making community-building around the sport increasingly difficult. Since switching to indoor rinks, the amount of forfeits has risen significantly. 

In a typical winter, many students can be found playing pickup hockey or broomball every night of the week. The sport brings together all different types of people of varying skill levels and talents.

“When you think of Bethel, people think of broomball. That’s one of the big staples of Bethel,” Brandt said. “So even if you’re really bad at it, they’re going to encourage you … You feel a sense of pride, or a sense of belonging with that.”

Brandt played on the championship-winning intramural team last year and experienced a massive turnout from Bethel students watching the game. The Final Four game brought in fans with a bonfire going and even free sandwiches provided by the local Chick-fil-A.

“You just knew how much of a big deal it was at that moment,” Brandt said.

Broomball has been around at Bethel for generations, and regardless of the weather conditions, Bethel Student Government was not willing to let that stop now. The regular broomball season will continue until playoffs, which will be held the last week of February. The championship game will take place at the National Sports Center Feb. 29.

“I think the fact that … we’re willing to go to such large lengths, we’re willing to buy and rent ice from actual ice rinks just so we can keep the season going … just goes to show how important it is to this community,” Brandt said.

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About the Contributor
Kathryn Kovalenko, Photo Editor
Kathryn Kovalenko, 19, is a sophomore media production and journalism major. She enjoys making hyper-specific Spotify playlists, treasure hunting at Goodwill and spending all her money on concert tickets. If you want hundreds of candid photos taken of you, ask her to hang out.  [email protected]  | 605.321.6455

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