The Essence of Broomball: Duct Tape and Bristles
The name “broomball” is derived from the unique construction of the brooms used in the game. While contemporary brooms are now manufactured, original enthusiasts would insist brooms should have straw bristles with duct tape wrapping all but a few inches at the end. These brooms, akin to hockey sticks, are used to propel a small round ball into the opponent’s goal. Played both indoors and outdoors on an ice rink, broomball features two teams of six players each, with a goaltender and five field players. Unlike traditional ice hockey, players do not wear ice skates, opting instead for rubber-soled shoes, typically their everyday sneakers.
Broomball on a Budget
Despite the university’s reputation for impressive math and engineering programs, the less serious endeavor of broomball has become a significant part of campus life, involving over a quarter of the student body each season.
Wyatt Helzer, a computer science and ethics major and the current chairperson of broomball at Michigan Tech, highlights the sport’s accessibility as a key factor in its popularity.
“Not only is it relatively easy to learn,” said Helzer. “But it’s affordable too. I mean, a broom, some duct tape, and 35 bucks lets you play all season.”
Helzer encourages cash-strapped college students to work a few shifts at the rinks to cover their entry fees, making broomball an accessible and inclusive activity for students.
Evolution of Rules and Broomball Culture
When broomball first hit Michigan Tech in the 1950s, there were only two rules: the first addressing how many inches of broom bristles needed to show below your tape and the second being that brooms couldn’t be used as a bat against other players. For a university nestled in the harsh weather of the Upper Peninsula, these seem like fairly reasonable rules for the hearty individuals who call Michigan Tech home.
Over the years, broomball has evolved into its own subculture at the university, attracting fans for life. Now, three outdoor rinks are situated in the center of campus, making it nearly impossible for the student body to avoid its charms.
Nerds on Ice
David Wingard, a 2008 MTU alumnus working in research and development, returns annually for the Alumni Tournament during Winter Carnival, which showcases broomball’s enduring allure.
“Tech is filled with a bunch of nerds,” Wingard jokes. “But that’s the thing about broomball—you don’t have to be a serious athlete, you just
have to be up for some fun.”
As the sound of brooms hitting balls echoes through the icy rinks of Michigan Tech, it resonates with the laughter, friendships, and memories that make broomball an integral part of the Tech experience. Broomball is a reflection of the Upper Peninsula and Michigan Tech itself—resilient, innovative, and unapologetically unique.
Statistics are a part of most athletics. But there’s nothing average about the stats coming out of Michigan Tech’s intramural sport of choice—broomball.
- 3 rinks.
- 224 games.
- 2,000 student-athletes.
- 404,235 linear feet of
- duct tape each year.