Floorball coming to Dover Y: New sport offers winter option

Delaware State News photos/Marc Clery

DOVER — A new sport has arrived in Dover.

The Dover YMCA is now offering floorball — an indoor variation of hockey. It is the only facility in Delaware with the sport.

The Dover YMCA hosted a floorball demo this week to break in the new equipment. Robert Maiorana came from Sweden to offer instructional drills before the session ended with a scrimmage.

In an area where field hockey is so popular, floorball can be a winter option.

“I thought it was fun because you’re playing on hardwood floors so it moves faster than if you’re playing on a regular field,” said 11-year-old Peyton Shields, who plays field hockey for Postlethwait Middle School.

An instructional league will begin on Jan. 4. Anyone interested in signing up should contact Dover YMCA’s assistant program director John Gilroy at jgilroy@ymcade.org or 302-346-9622.

One of the main reasons why the Dover YMCA decided on floorball was because it does not damage the floor like floor hockey does. Floorball is played with lightweight sticks made from carbon fiber and a ball made from hard plastic which resembles a wiffle ball.

“There’s a lot of interest in hockey in this area and we want to bring it here,” Gilroy said. “But the only thing we have is this gym and the hockey sticks would damage the floor. You can look across the floor and there’s hardly a scratch on it now. You see how fast the game is and how much fun the kids are having.”

The Dover YMCA’s scrimmage featured staff members and local field hockey teams.

“It was cool,” said 12-year-old Makenzie Ridenour who also plays field hockey at Postlethwait. “It’s like field hockey and you get to hang out with friends.”

Floorball will be a non-medal sport at the next Summer Olympics in Tokyo in 2020. It is the most popular in Scandinavian countries, especially Sweden where it is the second most played sport among registered players.

Many Swedish NHL players grew up playing floorball such as current Colorado Avalanche winger Gabriel Landeskog and former Toronto Maple Leafs star Mats Sundin. Maiorana has partnered with a handful of NHL teams like the St. Louis Blues, Detroit Red Wings and New York Rangers to help the growth of floorball in the United States.

The hope for floorball at the Dover YMCA is to eventually offer competitive floorball leagues after the instructional clinics.

“We want to see how much interest we can get from the area and we can see if we can have a summer and a winter league,” Gilroy said.

Floorball actually has its origins in the United States in gym classes from the 1950s but did not take off in popularity until it was introduced in the 1980s to Sweden and Finland. The United States will be hosting floorball at the 2021 World Games in Birmingham, Alabama.

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