"The first night is especially funny, because everyone is wiping out," says Cathy Nabbefeld, a 33-year-old high school counselor who played last winter. "But you can pick up the game pretty easily."
Lesson one? "You learn how not to fall," she says.
First played in Canada, Broomball is a combination of ice hockey and floor hockey. Under official contest rules, two teams of six sneaker-wearing players (one of whom is a goalie) try to score by hitting an orb the size of a small basketball into the opponents' net. But not just any sweeping device will do: Athletes use molded rubber brooms.
"We call it the ultimate recreational sport, because nobody has really ever played before, so the skill level is fairly even," says Jeff Conarroe of Denver Sports Monster. "It's just a good excuse to get outside in the winter and have some fun."
The company provides helmets, sticks and balls; pillows are optional. "A lot of people wear Rollerblade pads, because you do fall a lot," Conarroe notes. And tough guys who want to mix it up should be aware that no checking is allowed (a Denver Sports official will be on hand to keep things in order). All participants must be at least 21.
The first Broomball league games start this week at the Ice Rink at Fillmore Plaza in Cherry Creek North. For those who miss that flurry of action, a second league debuts in early January at the Rink Downtown, on the 16th Street Mall at Arapahoe Street.
"We all had lots of little bruises after the first week," says Nabbefeld, who wears knee pads while competing. "But once we figured out what the heck we were doing, it was a blast."