ROSEVILLE, Calif. -- With the U.S. Army emphasis on running, sit-ups, pushups and pull-ups in its physical training program, a change of venue and team building can help cut down on daily workouts from going stale.

On Dec. 6, 24 Soldiers from the Sacramento Recruiting Battalion leadership team and operations center, along with the six company commanders and first sergeants, competed in broomball at an area skating rink with Team Officer versus Team Enlisted.

Command Sgt. Maj. Brian Hendricks and Executive Officer Maj. Timothy O'Bryant both agree the hour-and-a-half on the ice is a good workout.

"First, you are doing a lot of lateral movement and twisting that you don't normally do with a routine PT session," O'Bryant said.

Hendricks echoed the sentiments of the ice being challenging. "Without skates, your body tends to stay in motion longer than you intend it to. Plus hitting a four-inch ball with a six-inch club face on the end of a stick puts your hand-and-eye coordination to the test," he said.

"Physical fitness is one of the cornerstones for everything that we do," O'Bryant said. "Just like discipline, if you are physically fit and you are taking care of the everyday routine things, then the mission is going to fall into place. Your level of physical fitness is part of the Total Soldier Concept."

With the team age groups ranging from the mid-20s to early 60s, Hendricks said it is important that all Soldiers stay physically fit. "It is extremely important that Soldiers of all ages are ready to perform any task they are asked to do, and be confident in their abilities."

O'Bryant said this event was suggested by Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Chuck Duray at last year's Company Quarterly Training Briefs. Duray is not only a hockey fan but is a hockey player as well. The broomball competition was a great team-building event last year, so the two teams faced off on the ice again this year.

Physical fitness isn't the only reason to take to the ice -- broomball is a great teambuilding event as well. "It's an opportunity to build your team and bond, not just for the officers or the NCOs but for everyone," O'Bryant said. "At the end of the day you find yourself joking with each other about who fell on the ice, how great of a workout it was and how sore we were already."

Team Officers has won the bragging rights both years, defeating Team Enlisted rather decisively. What is Team Officers' secret to success?
"A lightning fast offense and a stone wall for a defense," O'Bryant said. Countering the executive officer's view, Hendricks said, "We (NCOs) did our job, because good NCOs make their commanders look great and build their confidence."

History of Broomball

Broomball is a winter sport played in ice arenas and community parks throughout the country. It is a game very similar to hockey in its formation and rules, but also incorporates some soccer strategies. The game is played on a hockey rink with two teams consisting of six players on each side (a goalie, two defensemen and three forwards). Similar to hockey and soccer, the object of the game is to score more goals than the opposing team. A player uses a stick (a shaft with a molded broom-shaped head) to maneuver a six-inch diameter ball up and down the ice. Instead of skates, players wear spongy-soled shoes to gain traction when running on the slippery surface.

While the history of broomball is rather vague, a few main facts have been widely reported. Broomball as we know it was first played in Canada in the early 1900's by street car workers using a small soccer ball and corn brooms. The sport evolved and was brought down to the United States.

Broomball in the United States started out with 10 players on the ice per team (one goalie, three defensemen, three mid-linesmen and three forwards). By 1967, the number of players was reduced to eight players per team. Some leagues still play eight-man broomball. By 1980, the rules changed to six players per team, as the game is played today. Also in 1980, the floating blue line rule came into effect.

-- Source: USA Broomball, www.usabroomball.com/