Top Shack Whackers are thus far undefeated and are last season’s league and tournament champions. Player Jeff Knaub says they are “the best whackers in town!” He also bragged that “people even come to watch us whack it!” PHOTO COURTESY OF SCHUYLER KNAUB

A whacking good time

Big Sky broomballers embrace winter’s wacky sport

It is a little like hockey, but without ice skates. Instead people wear shoes with decent tread. Some purchase the special broomball shoes and others creatively come up with ways to jury rig an old pair of boots – by conducting surgery to create better traction. There is good-natured heckling and the occasional splaying out of players from aggressively chasing the bright orange ball. It is festive and fun – and presents a good wintertime competitive sport for people who never became comfortable with hockey skates or ski racing gates.

Broomball migrated to Minnesota by way of maple leaf loving neighbors to the north before making way to other states with cold climates. It’s a sport which according to USA Broomball was started in the early 1900’s by street car workers with a small soccer ball and corn brooms. These corn brooms were dipped in water, frozen and taped solid.

Now, the sport has its own equipment which includes a stick or “broom” with a molded plastic end. It took root in Big Sky over a decade ago by way of Big Sky Resort employees who played on a frozen-over volleyball court according to Big Sky Broomball Commissioner Kevin Hannon. It’s still composed of mostly Big Sky Resort employees, but he would like to see it become more representative of the entire community. Now, five teams of around 50 people compete weekly on the Big Sky Town Center Rink. Many venture to area pubs afterward to gloat from victory – or drown the sorrows of defeat.

The league is now in a race to hold the playoffs – and hoping for a cold snap to beat the ice melt.

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