For the love of the game

February 13, 2013 | 11 a.m.

A dedicated group of faculty holds its own in intramural broomball against younger backs and knees

Sports | Betsy Wreidt

For the love of the game

The HazBenz have been competing in Bethel intramural broomball since the early 1990s. | Photo for The Clarion by Bethany Hanson

Students aren’t the only ones skidding across the ice during January, the month that marks the beginning of Bethel broomball fanaticism. A group of veteran broomball players also heads out to the rinks with a special advantage – the wisdom and skill that can only be accumulated by years of practice and dedication.

Formed in the late 1990s, the HazBenz team is made up of Bethel faculty and staff who share a love of the game. They come from a variety of departments, including the art, Bible, business and physics departments. Some have the advantage of a hockey background, while others have years of college broomball experience.

Countless seasons of playing together have given the team a slight edge over student intramural broomball teams.

“We don’t talk a whole lot of strategy,” said HazBenz captain Keith Stein, who has played since 2001 when he was hired as a physics professor. “We’ve played enough that we know what we’re doing. Most of the student teams are pulled together that year and haven’t worked as long as a team.”

The faculty and staff not only enjoy the competitiveness of the game, but also value the opportunity to interact with other faculty, staff and students outside of the classroom. Professor Bryan Anderson has played on the team for several years along with his wife Laura. He faces both current and former students on the ice and appreciates the tenor of the Bethel broomball community.

“It’s very interesting to see students in a different role,” Anderson said. “But you do have to be careful how you behave. It’s easy to get hyper-competitive and forget where you are and who you’re playing with, so we try to be particularly mindful of that.”

The team’s success is evident throughout Bethel broomball history. The HazBenz won their first Bethel Broomball Intramural Championship in the late 1990s and then again in 2002 and 2009. Their record this year is 4-1.

The team’s regular players of 2013 are Keith Stein, Bryan Anderson, Stephen Whiting, Rob Scott, Jonathan Van Berkom, Gus Broman, Laura Anderson, Jessica Henderson and Megan Kirchoff.

Because all broomball teams need at least four females on the ice, the HazBenz will usually invite a few students to play. Junior Emily Gerry has filled in on the HazBenz team this season and has also noticed the advantage of their team dynamics compared to student teams.

“They know where to be on the ice, as well as how to shoot – and they shoot very hard – which gives them the major upper hand when it comes to playing student teams,” Gerry said. “The other team usually isn’t really ready for it, and if it’s a freshman team, they’re definitely not expecting it.”

The HazBenz might meander out to the ice rink and joke about their aching muscles, but both their history and many student testimonies point to the fact that they’re a tough team to beat. Plus, as Stein said, they know physics.

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