Next spring, athletes from throughout the United States will travel to Westmoreland County in Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands to compete in the 2017 USA Broomball National Championship Tournament. The 19th annual tournament will be held April, 7-9, 2017, at Delmont’s Center Ice Arena.
The 2017 National Tournament will be the first time the event has been held in Pennsylvania and the furthest east the tournament has ever traveled. Nearly 40 teams are expected to compete and will travel from Nebraska, Minnesota, Indiana, Michigan, Massachusetts, New York, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, the District of Columbia and more.
What is broomball?
Played on an ice rink with brooms of molded plastic that resemble hockey sticks, broomball has many similarities to hockey, but there is one big difference. Skates are not allowed, and the only thing gripping competitors to the ice is a pair of specially-designed shoes. The structure of the game requires teamwork, endurance, and hand-eye coordination. According to USA Broomball, there are approximately 250 men’s, women’s and co-ed teams playing in sanctioned leagues throughout the United States in those same categories.
According to USA Broomball, the history of the sport is vague. The widely accepted history is that the sport originated in Canada in the early 1900s. Streetcar employees played on frozen surfaces during lunch breaks, using actual brooms to strike a ball in an attempt to score in the opponent's goal, much like hockey in concept. The first broomball games held in the United States were reportedly played in Minnesota in the 1930s.
Growing local participation in broomball
While the Pittsburgh Broomball Club is relatively new, many of its members have played for years in a local league that plays on a smaller rink with small nets and modified rules. After traveling to play tournaments in other cities, its founding members decided in 2014 to form a co-ed or co-rec team to play on full-size ice hockey rinks.
“Our local group now hosts an annual regional tournament and runs a new league that plays at Delmont’s Center Ice Arena,” said Michael Whalen, Pittsburgh Broomball Club board member. “We also put together teams to travel to other cities to compete. In 2015, the Pittsburgh team won the ‘B’ bracket at the annual ‘Broomfest’ tournament in Oxford, Ohio.”
“Having the national organization accept the bid to host the National Championships in April 2017 is a real testament to how far the Pittsburgh organization has come in a short time,” added Whalen. “The players, officials and families will have plenty of places to explore and things to do in the Laurel Highlands between games.”
In early 2016, representatives from the Pittsburgh Broomball Club approached Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau (LHVB) to discuss the possibility of hosting the tournament. As the destination marketing organization for Westmoreland, Fayette and Somerset counties, the LHVB coordinated the funding to secure the bid and connected the local organizing committee with local partners, including hoteliers to secure rates and specifics for the bid.
“Hosting the USA Broomball National Tournament will provide a wonderful opportunity to showcase Westmoreland County and the Laurel Highlands region,” said Reneé Seifert, President and CEO of the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau. “We expect to welcome 450 players, coaches, support staff and family members for the three-day tournament. It is estimated this event will have an economic impact of approximately $685,000 in the region.”
"We would not have been able to attract this national event without the help of Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau,” added Whalen. “We're grateful that the LHVB recognized the value of bringing this event to the region, and are confident that visiting teams will return for future competitions.”
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About the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau®
The Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau is the destination marketing organization dedicated to promoting Fayette, Somerset, and Westmoreland counties in Pennsylvania. Established in 1958, the LHVB implements year-round seasonal marketing campaigns throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic to enhance awareness of the Laurel Highlands as a travel destination, which increases overnight stays, generates jobs and contributes to the economic growth and quality of life for the region.
The visitors bureau and its partners influence thousands of decision-makers and millions of visitors to choose the Laurel Highlands through direct sales, marketing, public relations, branding and visitor services. Destinations within the area include three architectural masterpieces by Frank Lloyd Wright – Fallingwater®, Kentuck Knob and Duncan House – Seven Springs Mountain Resort, Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, the Flight 93 National Memorial, Idlewild and Soak Zone, whitewater rafting at Ohiopyle State Park and much more.
Located within 200 miles of the major metropolitan areas of Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Cleveland and Washington D.C., the Laurel Highlands can be easily accessed from exits 67, 75, 91 and 110 of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.