Chapel Hill: Sports

Police score goals for Special Olympics

In broomball, a stick with a plastic broom-shaped head is used to maneuver a 6-inch-diameter ball along the ice
In broomball, a stick with a plastic broom-shaped head is used to maneuver a 6-inch-diameter ball along the ice Photos by Randy Young

Hillsborough’s “thin blue line” may be a bit closer to black-and-blue after last weekend.

A broomball hockey tournament fundraiser for Special Olympics North Carolina on the Orange County SportsPlex ice rink Saturday left more than a few officers and friends battered, bruised, and flat on their backs.

Still, where there was no traction in required athletic shoes (no skates), smiles and laughter were plentiful. Moreover, the cause of these athletes’ frequent downfalls was also the universally-accepted treatment for most sports injuries: ice.“We told everybody not to get hurt,” Hillsborough Police Chief Duane Hampton said, laughing. “This is outside of worker’s compensation.”

Three teams of 10 players squared off on Saturday afternoon representing the Hillsborough Police Department who organized the event, a team from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, and a “house” team of SportsPlex staff.

Broomball is similar to hockey but incorporates soccer strategies, a Hillsborough Police release explained. Players wear spongy-soled or athletic shoes instead of skates to (try to) gain traction on the ice. During the game, a stick with a molded broom-shaped head is used to maneuver a 6-inch-diameter ball up and down the ice to score the most goals.

Orange County SportsPlex assistant general manager Andrew Stock said broomball matches were very popular at the facility, though many games occurred later in the evenings due to demand for ice time.

“We actually average one or two a week,” Stock said. “In the winter, we get a ton. We get a lot of college kids.”

Hampton said his squad was starting from scratch.

“We’ve never tried this before,” he said, laughing. “We have no idea (what we’re doing). We have a couple folks we’ve brought in that have some hockey experience and who at least understand the concept, but we have no idea how that’s going to translate to tennis-shoes-on-ice.”

The chief donned a Captain America costume in keeping with a comic book superheroes theme, alongside numerous fellow officers sporting Batman and Superman garb.

Orange County Sheriff’s Department community services officer Theresa Kernodle said her agency was definitely happy to help out but her roster was less definitive.

We had one guy who used to play hockey, but he’s not here,” Kernodle said. “We’ve got four BLET cadets who just started training last Monday; we’ve got Jonathan Daniel, who’s also from Community Services, patrol officers, and an investigator. We’ve got a little bit of everything out there.”

Hillsborough Mayor Tom Stevens said the event not only represented a great fundraiser for a great cause, but it also put a great public face on the area law enforcement.

“The police department does a great job of reaching out to the community and being a presence,” Stevens said, “but it’s the occupational hazard of police—or really, local government—that almost everything we do is invisible unless something goes wrong. But there are so many people doing so many things well through our community policing philosophy. These guys just do a super job or reaching out.”

Each team’s registration fee of $100 ($10 per person) benefitted Special Olympics North Carolina, which helps individuals with intellectual disabilities overcome barriers through sports.

Corporal King noted that, while helping SONC was paramount, some good-natured smack talk definitely was exchanged between Hillsborough and Orange County.

“Yeah, fundraising comes first, and bragging rights are second,” she said. “Everyone’s having a ball, though.”

The broomball bash precedes two more SONC fundraising events later this year – a golf tournament Aug. 20 in Graham and a 5K in October.

For more information on upcoming events or to make a donation to Special Olympics North Carolina, call Senior Corporal Tereasa King at 919-732-2441 (ext. 26).To make a donation online, visit the Police Department’s fundraising page at

At the sportsplex

Upcoming events at the Sportsples include Lifeguarding / CPR / First Aid classes on June 10-12 and Aug. 5-7. Register through the SportsPlex head lifeguard at 919-644-0339 (ext. 241)