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Vankleek Hill Rockets Youth Broomball has grown to a record number of players for the 2021-2022 season. Photo: Reid Masson

Rockets Youth Broomball takes flight with record number of players

Vankleek Hill Rockets Youth Broomball has reached a record altitude for the 2021-2022 season.

We have 38 kids! (That’s the) most ever!,” exclaimed Dawn MacDuff, one of the organizers of the youth broomball league, after the U9 and U12 groups held their individual practices last Sunday, November 6.

Vankleek Hill’s minor broomball league, which was formed in 2018, was forced to cancel play last season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But with minor sports once again allowed in Ontario, the youngsters in the Vankleek Hill region have been eager to get back on the ice.

The league has reserved ice time at the Vankleek Hill Arena each Saturday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., with the first practice being held on October 30. After two weeks of drills and skill development, the kids were ready this past Saturday to get in some fun games.

“The little ones (U9) scrimmaged full ice for the first time today, and U12s had a great game after their drills ” MacDuff noted. “The U12s really had fun and really competed today too!”

While registration closed in late October, parents can still sign up their children to play by contacting MacDuff by email at [email protected] Vankleek Hill Minor Broomball also maintains a Facebook page, which offers information on registration, as well as sales of used equipment for budding youth players.

There were some new players on the ice last Sunday, MacDuff noted, and the coaches spend extra time with youths new to the sport.

“I’m working with a brand new recruit today, making sure he gets a little extra one-one-one,” the dedicated broomball coach explained, adding new players get up to speed very quickly. “There is a bit of balancing to get new registrants’ comfort level up but, three to four weeks usually does it.”

“Then we can start with rules of the game and in-game strategies.”

Having so many participants in Rockets youth broomball after a year off has been gratifying to organizers, who were not sure what the turnout level would be. Weekly play at the Vankleek Hill Community Centre follows all public health guidelines, including hand sanitizing and mask wearing when indoors and extra care has been taken to ensure the safety of players, volunteers and parents. The Federation of Broomball Ontario requires all players over the age of 12 years to be fully vaccinated as of November 25.

Despite the extra efforts required to follow all of the guidelines required to play in 2021-2022, the Rockets’ volunteer coaches are tickled to be back on the ice.

“(We are) so happy after the extra work to get going again,” MacDuff said. “It’s such a thrill to see (the players) progress and succeed.”

Vankleek Hill Rockets Youth Broomball coach Dawn MacDuff works with members of the U9 group at the Vankleek Hill Community Centre on Saturday, November 6. Photo: Reid Masson
Rockets Youth Broomball coaches Isabelle Pilon (foreground) and Josee Laflèche-Lavigne were busy working with the younger members of the U9 group last Saturday at the Vankleek Hill Community Centre. Photo: Reid Masson

Reid Masson

Reid Masson is a graduate of Algonquin College's Journalism Program. He has over 20 years of experience as a staff writer and editor for various newspapers across Canada, including The Ottawa Citizen and Brockville Recorder and Times.

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