BU Alumni Web

Winterfest Brings Alums Back to Campus

Hockey thrills, but broomball rocks

| From BU Today | By Cynthia K. Buccini
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See photos from the BU Alumni Association’s seventh annual Winterfest in the slideshow above.

The action on the ice at Walter Brown Arena Saturday afternoon was fast and furious. Shots pounded against the plexiglass. Goalies defended their nets. Players cheered and high-fived when a teammate scored.

But this wasn’t Terrier hockey by any stretch of the imagination. This was broomball—no skates (except for the refs), pucks, or hip checks involved. In fact, the inaugural Student vs. Alumni Broomball Tournament, one of the events offered at the BU Alumni Association’s seventh annual Winterfest weekend, was all about fun.

Eight broomball alumni teams competed on half the ice and eight student teams battled it out on the other half. The winners of each competition met for a final match at Agganis Arena following a Terrier ice hockey doubleheader. (The women’s team beat Northeastern 3-2; the men fell to Maine 3-1.)

Broomball, which combines elements of soccer and of hockey, is the most popular intramural sport at BU, with approximately 100 coed teams playing each season. Players wear helmets and rubber-soled shoes; using a broom-like stick, they attempt to score by hitting a ball into the opposing team’s net.

John Noonan played broomball as a BU student, and now participates in a pickup league in Boston’s North End. He wasn’t above a little trash talk before the Winterfest tournament began.

“We’ve got the best team,” said Noonan (CAS’98). “We have a guy named Neil who’s the best broomball player on the entire planet. He’s the Wayne Gretzky of broomball. He’s the only one who’s not a Terrier, though. I sort of feel guilty about that, but winning is fun, so…”

Teammate Kerry Sullivan (CAS’08) also played broomball at BU. “It’s like hockey, but more chaotic, not nearly as choreographed,” she said. “It’s just a mad free-for-all to get the ball in the net—hopefully not your own.”

That appeared to be the extent of the strategy for some of the teams on Saturday. Players dashed for the ball, but any sudden start, stop, or change in direction sent them crashing to the ice. Occasionally a ball found the net.

Emily Wienberg had never played the game. “I’ve always wanted to play broomball, and I never had the courage or the guts to do it,” said Wienberg (COM’12), a member of the Student Alumni Association team. “I decided to take a chance.”

Wienberg’s team was eliminated in the first round, after losing 2-0, but her spirits were high. “I’m so happy I did it,” she said. “I only fell once, which I’m very excited about, and we really did have a blast.”

David Carney, playing for the BU Young Alumni, took a spill in the first half of his first game and knocked in a goal during the second half. “It felt good,” said Carney (CAS’08), who played as a BU undergraduate and for three years after that when he worked for the University. “It secured the win for our team.”

And it set the pace for the rest of the tourney. Carney’s team went on to win the championship, besting the student team, Poison Ivy, 1-0.

Broomball was among two dozen activities on tap during the weekend. One of the events that drew a big crowd was Friday’s panel discussion What Is the Real State of Africa? The discussion, in the School of Management Auditorium, was moderated by Charles R. Stith, director of the University’s African Presidential Archives & Research Center (APARC) and a former ambassador to Tanzania, and featured two ambassadors to the United States, Tebelelo Seretse of Botswana and Steve Matenje of Malawi, as well as Walter Carrington, a former U.S. ambassador to Nigeria. The center studies and tracks democratization and free-market reform in Africa.

On Saturday, about 30 people filled the seats in the exhibition kitchen at 808 Comm Ave to watch a Chinese cooking demonstration with chef and cookbook author Helen Chen, who sliced scallions, snow peas, dried shitake mushrooms, and chicken for her noodle dish and offered lessons in basic Chinese vocabulary, knife skills, food, and society.

While Chen stood at her wok, 10 teams were coming up with ways to transform large blocks of ice into sculptures of Rhett, a dragon, a mermaid, and the Eiffel Tower.

“We won last year as an organization,” said Jennifer Leighton (CAS’13), a member of the Student Alumni Association team.

“Defending champs,” said teammate Pearl Burkham (SMG’12). “Last year, we did Rhett’s chew toy. It was Rhett chewing on the BC eagle.”

This year’s first place award went to dragon sculptors Alan Campbell (CAS’92) and his wife, Pam Helling, from Brookline.

Meanwhile, Susan Lindsay Mello (SPH’96) watched her two sons, Andrew, 9, and Ian, 13, negotiate the rock-climbing wall at the Fitness & Recreation Center. It was Mello’s first Winterfest. “We thought it would be a great activity for a winter day,” she said.

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