Are you ready for some broomball?


The students from Crown and Alper houses streamed across the Midway early, boisterous to a level usually reserved for Scav Hunt. The two houses—Crown from the new dorm, Alper from Max Palevsky Commons—were converging on the ice rink for a match-up in intramural broomball, a favorite of College students since the rink’s 2002 construction. But this was no ordinary game: it pitted the house named for Board of Trustees chair Andrew Alper, AB’80, MBA’81, against the house named for former chair James Crown. Dubbed the first annual Chairman’s Cup, the match was given extra weight with the attendance of the two namesakes; Dean of the College John Boyer, AM’69, PhD’75; Vice President for Campus Life and Dean of Students in the University Kimberly Goff-Crews; and a half-dozen other administrators. More important, the rink’s warming house held tables of hot cocoa and cookies, no doubt a byproduct of the special guests’ attendance.

broomball-2.jpgSimilar to ice hockey but with balls and brooms replacing pucks and sticks, broomball is played without ice skates. Deputy Dean of Students for Housing and Dining Services and Assistant Dean of the College Cheryl Gutman, one of the most vigorous spectators, noted that it is also played with no protective gear besides helmets. “Protect the brain at all costs,” she remarked. “You can break a leg, but don’t hurt your head. It’s very U of C.”

With the Alper House Penguins in red and the nameless Crown House team in black, the game began, accompanied by the raucous cheers and heckles of their housemates. After a period-and-a-half of spirited, if often chaotic, play, the score remained tied at 0-0. Several spills elicited groans from the spectators but had yet to cause any injuries. Happily, the fisticuffs often associated with ice hockey seem to have been among the aspects omitted from the invention of broomball. Then, with less than a minute remaining, Crown House got the ball past the Penguins’ goalie, bringing the score to a 1-0 advantage that held until the buzzer.

Both houses, and their patrons, streamed onto the ice for the presentation of the large Chairman’s Cup trophy, to be displayed in the Crown House lounge until the teams meet again next year. A smaller trophy topped with a miniature broomball player and engraved with “Chairman’s Cup, Alper vs. Crown, Established 2010” was also made to pass between the two men. Crown seemed delighted to receive the momento but unsure about where to display it. “I think any place I could put it, people will ask about it,” he mused, “and I would probably need to provide an explanation of each and every word of the inscription.”

Kyle Gorden, AB’00

Photos by Dan Dry

February 16, 2010