When Cory Rideout first picked up the sport of broomball, it was a thriving activity in the city.
He started playing through a junior program offered in high school back in the early-90s, before registering for the senior men’s league in 1998 after multiple requests from his friends already involved.
“I liked it, it was a lot like soccer and hockey,” he said. “And it was a good laugh because a lot of my friends played it.”
Rideout still has friends who regularly attend the weekly Monday night games of the Corner Brook Molson Men’s Broomball League, but the numbers have decreased significantly over the years.
It’s to the point now where Rideout believes the sport is “definitely” on its way out, unless something drastic happens.
“Every year we lose a few more and lose a few more,” he said.
The city men’s league is the only one on the island. For the other groups competing at this week’s Newfoundland and Labrador Broomball Championships in Deer Lake, they simply form a team and attend tournaments whenever and wherever they can. Rideout thinks that could eventually be the blueprint for this city.
“It’s very unfortunate,” he said.
As if to underscore the sport’s fading stature in the province, this year’s provincial championships features just three men’s teams. The women’s side is a little better, with five entrants.
Rideout figures this will be somewhere in the ballpark of his 15th time playing at the provincials. Corner Brook has not fared well recently, however, having last won gold back in 2007.
Rideout cites the unavailability of some of the city’s best players in many past provincial tournaments as a reason for coming up short, but says this year appears to be looking much better in that regard.
Another issue may be the inclusion of body contact in provincial play, something not featured in the local men’s league.
“We’re used to putting our heads down and doing what you want to do,” Rideout admitted. “Now you have to keep your head up and be aware of who is around you.”
Play in the men’s and women’s divisions begins Thursday evening at the Hodder Memorial Recreation Complex.
THURSDAY, MARCH 7
7 p.m. — Deer Lake vs Twin Town
9 p.m. — Exploits vs Western Sabres
11 p.m. — Happy Valley-Goose Bay vs Deer Lake
8 p.m. — Corner Brook vs Bishop’s Falls
10 p.m. — Happy Valley-Goose Bay vs Bishop’s Falls
FRIDAY, MARCH 8
12 noon — Exploits vs Twin Town
2 p.m. — Western Sabres vs Happy Valley-Goose Bay
3 p.m. — Deer Lake vs Exploits
5 p.m. — Twin Town vs Happy Valley-Goose Bay
6 p.m. — Deer Lake vs Western Sabres
8 p.m. — Western Sabres vs Twin Town
9 p.m. — Happy Valley-Goose Bay vs Exploits
1 p.m. — Corner Brook vs Happy Valley-Goose Bay
4 p.m. — Bishop’s Falls vs Corner Brook
7 p.m. — Bishop’s Falls vs Happy Valley-Goose Bay
10 p.m. — Happy Valley-Goose Bay vs Corner Brook
SATURDAY, MARCH 2
12 noon — 1st place vs 4th place
1 p.m. — 2nd place vs 3rd place
3 p.m. — Championship game
2 p.m. — Championship game