The history of the sport called "broomball" goes back longer than you may think!
The origins of the sport of broomball are still yet to be fully uncovered. Many describe broomball as having been started in the early 1900s in Canada by street car workers, but the origins seem less obvious than that after a little newspaper archive digging: The Pittsburgh (without the "h" back then) Press ran an article (see right) back on January 31, 1898 which described games of broomball being played in New York City and Baltimore! Players used house brooms to hit a rugby football toward a goal, though they were on ice skates instead of running around in their shoes.
The sport has maintained a history in Pittsburgh in various forms since the early 1900s. The skating version of broomball was played for many years, appearing to be popular enough in the first half of the century to spawn a league which played during intermissions of games of Pittsburgh's first NHL team, the Pirates, at the Duquesne Gardens in Oakland. Results of games were even published in the local paper the next day!
An article was run in 1930 which more closely describes the broomball we know and love as gaining popularity in Quebec, as players were running on the ice trying to hit a soccer ball with a broom into a regulation hockey goal.
In the second half of the 20th century and into the 2000s, the best place to find broomball in the Pittsburgh area was the Mt. Lebanon Ice Rink. For decades, broomball has been played at the rink's smaller "studio rink" both in shoes and on skates. It has been a popular sport to provide everything from a fun group activity for children and teenagers, to a get-together for adults looking for something to do on a weekend evening. In the 2000s, the Pittsburgh Sports League added broomball to its vast list of sports offered, playing its games at the studio rink in Mt. Lebanon on chopped-up ice and utilizing the rink's existing equipment; at its peak, the broomball league's availability could close within minutes of sign-up time beginning.
While broomball reached a competitive level in Pittsburgh on the small ice, the modern game still was not being regularly played on full size sheets of ice as was being done in the state of Minnesota and many cities nearby to Pittsburgh. That changed in the 2010s. The first team out of Pittsburgh to make its way to a tournament was a team composed of players from a few PSL broomball teams called the Dancing Goats, which played the First State Broomball Tournament in Delaware in 2012. Players coming from Pittsburgh, some of whom were stepping onto a full sheet of ice for the first time that weekend, first played in USA Broomball's National Championships in 2013 in Oxford, OH; the first full co-rec Pittsburgh entry was called the Steel City Anthem and was also formed entirely from PSL broomball league players.
Full ice, modern broomball truly began to take off in the Steel City with the beginnings of the relationship with Center Ice Arena in Delmont and the founding of the Pittsburgh Broomball Club. Today, the Club has sent teams and players to tournaments as far east as Boston and as far west as Las Vegas, including tournaments as major as the World Broomball Championships!
Check out more very old articles on broomball in Pittsburgh below!