The game of Floorball is bringing young college students out of their dorms, experiencing campus recreation through a broad, co-ed sport.
Throughout the US there a Colleges and University campus recreation professionals working diligently to provide students with a diverse and comprehensive experience to their education. For most schools there are the regular sports such as flag football, volleyball, basketball, and soccer. However, in many cases these sports limit the number of players available or interested in playing. As schools look through their departments evaluating needs and available funding,
it has become more important that campus recreation departments continue to provide a diverse programming base to retain and attract students. Everyone is looking for the next big trend and organizations like National Intramural Sports Recreation Association (NIRSA) have become a central point for professionals to collaborate and improve.
As a campus recreation professional I’m constantly dealing with this same battle. When I started my job as the Director of Recreation at Saint Martin’s University I naturally evaluated out programs. What I found was that we were lacking in both sports available to students, but we were only serving a very small portion of our population. As a result, I drew on my experience of floorball and made a plan to add it to our intramural sports calendar. In order to gain more interest, I planned multiple demo events and connected with various students regarding the sport. Whenever there was a chance I spoke to students about it, and posted the traditional print and digital platforms in order to spread the word. For the first events I would see about 10 students show up. I also host a monthly event in the late evenings for open gym, and I would set the equipment out and see what happened. Through that event it’s pretty normal to see 16 or more students engage through the sport. For a frame of reference, the late night events draw anywhere from 40-100 students of a population of about 1,400 students at SMU playing strictly pickup games such as basketball and volleyball. We’ve also run two seasons of intramural floorball with 24 students respectively each season.
What I’ve found in offering floorball was that it provides a different kind of atmosphere from basketball and volleyball. Since most kids don’t grow up playing hockey the skill level for most is roughly the same. Through floorball I’ve noticed newer students come out to events or intramural sports that aren’t coming out otherwise. That is one of the more important aspects to how the sport has helped me attract new students to the department. I’ve even begun to see informal games start up during the day between students. While I was the driving force behind it in the beginning it has slowly taken on a life of its own by the students. I think it is worth a look by all campus recreation professionals to consider adding floorball to their programming.