Middle schoolers and high schoolers shuffled out of their ice rinks, prepared to end their evening from whatever hockey practices or games they were in.
When they exited, however, they didn’t come to an empty lobby. Instead, over 100 Taylor University students awaited their turn to enter the cold rink, all dressed up in various costumes, each one holding an overly duct taped broom.
Every year, the entire third floor of English Hall participates in Broomball — a long standing pick-a-date tradition that takes place in November. The event is exclusive to the women of third English and one date of their choosing. Junior Caeli Harman, personnel assistant (PA) for third center English, said this year there will be 121 participants.
“It's almost like a comic con convention has rolled up to an ice rink,” she said.
MacKenzie Bedor, residence hall director of English, described Broomball as “controlled chaos.” Students enter the ice rink with no skates, just regular shoes. Each wing — North, Center and South — is pitted against another each round with the third wing sitting and watching.
Balls in all sizes are plopped onto the rink — soccer balls, tennis balls and more. A PA from a wing counts down and the two teams charge, using their brooms to aim the balls into their opponent's net.
For an entire hour, students slip and slide across the ice, some toppling to the ground in a disorganized strategy. The scene, to an outsider, is absolute chaos.
The rules of Broomball are simple: hit a ball — not into your own net. PA’s from each wing stand behind the goals, counting each point that goes in.
“We try to keep it accurate, but I think sometimes there's so many people shoving balls into one goal,” Harman said.
The tradition expands beyond the time on ice, taking up most of the evening. Before going to the ice rink, students meet their date in the English Hall lobby to decorate their brooms with a new added layer of duct tape.
Third English owns brooms designated for the event — ones that have been used for years.
“Those brooms downstairs in storage are so old,” Harman said. “They're extremely heavy because of how many times they have been duct taped.”
All broomball participants then eat dinner at the Hodson Dining Commons in costume before driving off to the Broomball location.
The costumes every year have various levels of effort, ranging from Teletubbies all the way to a near accurate Jack Sparrow portrayal. Students traditionally pre-plan a couple’s costume with their date, sometimes weeks in advance.
Kirsten Stinson, English Hall discipleship coordinator, said that one year, her friends decided to go as Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, making sure to include the Huntsman and Evil Queen. Stinson’s favorite costume she’s seen was an inflatable Chewbacca.
This year’s Broomball event is to take place at Indy Tank in Fishers, Indiana, and comes with a special surprise.
John Cavey, Indy Fuel Tank general manager, paid for the event’s ice time. His son attends Taylor as a freshman. Cavey said he wanted to support the university and offered to pay when he found out Harman, who was coordinating the rink location and time for the event, was a student at Taylor.
“I said, ‘You know what, I’m gonna take care of your ice and let you guys go out and have some fun,’” Cavey said.
His kindness, Harman said, was a “God moment” — not only an answer to prayers for an ice rink with an available time slot open for Nov. 3, but also an unexpected gift in generosity.
“It just kind of shows the Taylor community and how we can care for each other really well in so many different types of situations,” Bedor said.