Updated: Aug 13, 2020
Part One – The Origin
USA Broomball was formed in the fall of 1998 when The Mag’s Editor (David St. Aubin) arranged a meeting at long- time favorite broomball watering hole, Champp’s in Richfield MN. Invited to this Sicilian style sit down were MSF Executive Director Perry Coonce, MSF RIC Buzz Evans, Hansen Sports Captain and future USA Broomball HOFer Tom Thaden, as well as Tony Jaro’s goaltender and future HOFer Chris “Sluggo” Blair.
The bodyguards were kept outside the establishment, and no one was allowed to use the men’s room just in case Clemenza had taped a .38 behind the toilet.
The Architect laid out his vision, and the principal players all signaled their support. Coonce’s outfit was to be in charge. Perry (with Buzz’s aid) laid the groundwork for the logo, rulebook, and inaugural National Championship.
The first event was held in 1999 at The Bloomington Ice Garden, featuring a Men’s and Co-Rec division. The event attracted a modest 19 teams, and Hansen Sports from Richfield MN defeated Benning Inc. of Blaine MN to be crowned the first-ever USA Broomball Men’s National Champion, while The Flames (Minneapolis MN) captured top honors in the Co-Rec.
Over the years several more USA Broomball Hall of Famer’s would take on prominent roles as the National Championship tournament evolved, perhaps none more important than Kevin and Allison Denesen. More than one National Tourney would have come completely unraveled without the Denesen family glue holding it together. Allison is expert at formatting St. Aubin’s tournament draw scribblings, and Big Kev has logged more hours on-site, running the show, than all others combined.
Pat Clarkin and Rodney Olson have also etched their names in USA Broomball lore, both thanklessly serving as Referee in Chief after the legendary Buzz Evans retired. You think the players are nuts? Spend a weekend in the ref’s room trying keep that crew happy and organized. A PhD in psychology is a prerequisite, with a certificate in child development strongly recommended!
Last but not least the voice of the Men’s A title tilt, promotional genius Al Stauffacher. “Woody” has been there time after time for USA Broomball, securing host sites, negotiating hotel accommodations, and announcing the finals for the players and fans. He along with St. Aubin are amongst the last of the Mohican’s, those still involved with the sport who were there at the very first one back in 99.
In the upcoming Part Two we will examine the unlikely series of events that have occurred during tournament weekend since 2017.