The following is a brief account of the history of our broomball program in the Toledo area.
The Toledo area Young Life ministry started a broomball program as part of their youth outreach in the Toledo Area. Young Life, under the guidance of then Area Director Harry George, had been active in the Toledo area for a number of years and it wanted to have a new vehicle for contact work with area high school youth. Since they already had a number of activities that facilitate outreach work with area boys, it was decided to come up with a new outreach that would serve as an activity for area girls.
It was Tim Strand, an area leader who had served on Young Life staff in Flint, Michigan, who suggested broomball. It was while serving in Flint that he had seen broomball used by the area Young Life program as a girls’ youth outreach activity. He suggested a trip to Flint in 1976 to see the program in action. The results were so impressive that the Toledo area Young Life program started their own broomball program the following year, in 1977.
The first broomball tournament was one weekend long. Each Toledo area Young Life Club had its own broomball team, with its Young Life leaders serving as the coaches. To maximize the youth participation, each team played with 10 players on the ice. Since it was never intended that the broomball program be an athletic league, but rather a fun and competitive activity, two games were played at the same time, on half ice, and they only lasted for two, eight minute periods. That way a larger number of games could be played, at a quickened pace, with more participants on hand to watch. The tournament was concluded with the two teams, with the best records from each conference, playing for the championship.
Unfortunately, by 1981, the Young Life program in the Toledo area was about to fade away, at least for the time being. One of the final activities sponsored by Young Life was the 1981 tournament.
By now the tournament is lasting for two weekends, rather than just one. It was decided that this year’s tournament would have a new four (4) team playoff format, so as to involve more players. By providing individual trophies for players on the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, & 4th place teams, the program organizers hoped to provide an enhancing experience for a greater number of participants. This format has been followed by the broomball program ever since.
With Young Life no longer sponsoring the broomball program, Dale Benington takes it upon himself to keep the program going. Having been the Young Life club leader for the Bowsher High School program, he organizes the Bowsher teams into a sponsoring body and in 1982 initiates the Bowsher Broomball Tournament. Former Young Life leaders, from other Young Life clubs, organize teams to participate in the program.
This was the last year that Dale Benington organized a broomball tournament. In the six (6) years that he had run the broomball tournament the number of teams involved had fluctuated between nine (9) and twelve (12) teams, divided into three (3) divisions. Originally he had hoped to keep the program going until Young Life returned to the Toledo area and then turn the program back over to them. However, in the spring of 1986 Young Life had returned with an all new leadership, and indicated that they were not interested in resuming the broomball program. This had been a surprising and difficult turn of events.
As more and more of the former Young Life leaders turned broomball coaches had moved on, the broomball program had become more than what Dale Benington could handle. He reluctantly informed all of the remaining individuals involved in the broomball program that this would be his last year of organizing the program, and that unless someone else stepped up to fill the void, it would be the last year of broomball. Fortunately, someone did, Jerry Masters.
With Jerry Masters in charge, broomball was reorganized. In order to broaden his base of support he created a Broomball Board that involved more people in the ownership of the broomball program. He then wrote a broomball Constitution and By-Laws that created a new broomball program called the “Greater Toledo Broomball Program”.
Another important change was that instead of financing the program by charging admission to the games, a player entree fee is accessed. The end result was that the program was greatly strengthened because it had a much securer financial base.
From this point on there was a greater focus on turning our broomball program into more of an athletic league, with an intramural level of play that would allow a broader range of student participants than your normal varsity level sports. Although the spiritual outreach to high school students was still a goal of the program, it was no longer the overt focal point.
Under the guidance and direction of Jerry Masters and the GTBL Board, the program rapidly expanded. Jerry decided to involve the Catholic schools in our league and as the program grew, more teams were added from several of our existing schools. Soon the league had grown from nine (9) teams to twenty eight (28) teams, playing in two (2) conferences made up of two (2) divisions each. The yearly broomball tournament had been changed to become a broomball season with a post-season tournament.
Although it had been several years in the making, the broomball program had gone through another change. Although ownership had always been shared between Jerry Masters and the GTBL Board, gradually it had been the Board that was assuming more and more of the ownership. Under its current structure, the program has been expanded to include a field of thirty two (32) teams. In addition to the regular season and post season tournament, a post season All-Star game has been added along with recognition of All-Academic honors for seniors with a 3.5 or higher GPA and a league MVP Award.