ORONO, Maine — When Homecoming weekend kicks off at the University of Maine this weekend, there will be all sorts of things for Black Bear Nation to enjoy.
The men’s hockey team, coming off a season-opening sweep of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, is hosting 2016 national runner-up Quinnipiac for a two-game set, and the football team will take on Albany in a key midseason conference clash.
In addition to those athletic events, which are expected to draw some pretty good crowds, the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity will be hosting the third annual Black Bear Battle Ball tournament.
What exactly is battle ball?
It is played like soccer, but players wear a giant “inflated orb” bubble suit to protect their heads and upper bodies.
“The overall objective is still to get the ball in the net, but now crashing into your friends and opponents is encouraged,” said Alpha Tau Omega Public Relations Chairman Austin Steward.
The tourney will be held all day Sunday at the Mahaney Dome on campus, Steward said. All proceeds from the tournament will benefit the Shriners Hospitals for Children.
The event starts at noon and lasts until 6 p.m.
Steward said that 30 teams participated last fall, and the Alpha Tau Omega brothers are expecting more this year.
“We are looking to expand to a bracket of 40,” he said.
Each team consists of five players.
“The Greek community is great about being involved here at UMaine, and we always have a good turnout of other fraternities and sororities participating,” Steward said.
While the event has its competitive nature, the No. 1 objective is for participants to have fun.
“This is a unique opportunity that only comes to campus once a year,” Steward said. “When we table for the event, just hearing the name brings back imagery and memories from events that cause people to light up.”
You don’t even have to be in tip-top shape to participate.
“It brings out people’s competitive edge in a competition that is based on fun, and rules out pure athleticism,” Steward said.
The entry fee is $8 per person and $40 per team. Cash or checks will be accepted in the Memorial Union. Checks should be made out to Alpha Tau Omega.
Follow Ryan McLaughlin on Twitter at @rmlclaughlin23.