Floorball has been a blessing in my life. I’ve been fortunate to have opportunities to travel the world playing and coaching. I’ve worked with groups of all ages and abilities with a focus on growing the game. Being able to work in the field of recreation, sports, athletics, education has truly opened my eyes to the impacts sports has on one’s life. This matters even more for young children who are trying to find their way in the world. Sports can have an impact that goes far beyond the court or field. In the end it’s about developing community and a place to feel welcome and connected.
Working in collegiate recreation I always looked for opportunities to connect students with the broader community. It’s too easy to silo ourselves in what we know or what is comfortable. My job is to develop spaces, programs, and opportunities for students to connect and let them do so. Sometimes that role is more obvious than others. Everything I do I try to think about what impact it would bring and how it might connect people together. A recreation center can be a cog to that process, and it is my focus to create a welcome and inclusive space for all. That challenge requires a willingness to think outside the box to provide programs and opportunities to attract new people to the building. Sometimes that means adding a new group fitness program or adjusting what and when classes are offered. Other times it means offering new and different sports. That’s where Floorball came in.
I have actively used Floorball to not only provide a new sport, but to attract new students that are not already engaged in the department. For the most part I would argue that the process has worked. It has taken some time to build, but in the end my goal from the first demo was that students would act of their own accord. After four years, I have students that are continuously engaged in playing the sport, active in seeking out opportunities, and are creating their own community as a result. What I’ve enjoyed in the process is empowering students to find their own path. If that happened to include Floorball great! Without the broader collegiate community working with me it wouldn’t have been successful.
While I’m working with students on campus throughout the year, I’m also able to connect with our international population too. I routinely get opportunities to work with new groups that come from all over the world. What I’ve found from the international students is that they recognize why they’re there and use any opportunity to experience and try new things. This willingness and having a captivated audience has given me some wonderful opportunities to connect with these students. I am hopeful because of being introduced to Floorball they might seeking it out back home, thus expanding the overall Floorball community.
The focus to build community matters. In order to build anything new it is vital to create a sense of community. Once you do that you need to create consistency. Those two factors will help grow whatever you’re trying to build.