Boomerang Champ Logan Broadbent Hopes The Sport Catches On In Cleveland
Logan Broadbent loves to play catch. You might see him at Edgewater Park or in any wide open space in the Cleveland Metroparks, his right elbow tightly taped to protect his ulnar collateral ligament, as he throws and catches for hours.
Logan Broadbent demonstrates the "fast catch" technique at Cleveland's Edgewater Park. [Photo: Stephanie Jarvis/ideastream]
But you won’t see anyone playing with him. His passion is a solitary pursuit -- he is both thrower and catcher.
That’s the way boomerangs work.
“It’s a relatively complicated sport,” said Broadbent, after sorting through a box filled with colorful boomerangs of various sizes and styles. “There are actually six individual events that we compete in over the course of a tournament, and you have to specialize in each of those events. First, you have to have the right equipment that really works well in every different type of weather condition, and then you really need to know how to use it. So it takes years to learn your boomerangs -- to learn the different skills and catches, but eventually you start to develop that expertise, and you start winning.”
Logan Broadbent with an assortment of boomerangs. [Photo: Stephanie Jarvis/ideastream]
Winning is something the 31-year-old Clevelander knows a lot about. He’s the reigning U.S. champion of the sport of boomerang, having won top honors, after finishing second two previous times, at the national championships in Boise, Idaho in August.
Broadbent joined the U.S. Boomerang Team at 14. He's won three World Championships with the team - 2010 Rome, 2016 Kiel, 2018 Albuquerque. [Photo: Logan Broadbent]
He’s also a member of the reigning world champion United States Boomerang Team, and is its youngest member ever, having joined when he was just 14. He’s been on the national team more than half his life.
To become the best, Broadbent worked to master the six events required for competitive boomeranging: Accuracy, Aussie Round, Endurance, Fast Catch, Maximum Time Aloft and Trick Catch.
Logan Broadbent reflects on his boomerang beginnings with ideastream's Mike McIntyre. [Photo: Stephanie Jarvis/ideastream]
How did he get so good? First, genetics. Broadbent’s father, Lakewood native and Canton resident Gary Broadbent, ranked number one in the country in 1997. He got into the sport as a child and became a boomerang evangelist in his teens. He still does presentations about the history and physics of boomerangs for school kids and corporate clients.
“He said that the first time I threw and caught a boomerang I was 18 months old,” Broadbent said. “But I don't know if that's true. It was one of those little ‘roomerangs’ that probably just landed on me.”
Logan Broadbent with his father, Gary Broadbent. [Photo: Logan Broadbent]
But DNA only gets you so far. Broadbent practices at least three times a week and trains every day to keep his body in top shape. He’s qualified for the Boston Marathon eight times and he is a four-time competitor in the American Ninja Warrior television competition, known, naturally, as the Boomerang Ninja. He just recently competed in the Obstacle Course Race World Championship in London.
Broadbent often attracts a crowd when he practices with his boomerangs. And he’s eager to teach newcomers how to become proficient at his craft. Even ones, like me, who aren’t initially eager to look like a fool doing something they’ve never tried before.
“You throw it overhand very similar to a football,” he told me, explaining how to hold the boomerang properly, how to gauge the wind, and how to let it fly. “I make a fist, and I’ll actually pinch the boomerang with my thumb. I tend to bring this wing back to my forearm. That’s what’s going to allow you to get even more spin out of your throw.”
Logan Broadbent demonstrates throwing technique with ideastream's Mike McIntyre. [Photo: Stephanie Jarvis/ideastream]
Let me just say I have not been throwing a boomerang since I was a toddler. In fact, I’d never thrown a boomerang in my life. Broadbent was a patient teacher.
The throwing, it turns out, comes pretty quickly. The catching is a bit trickier. A boomerang is not a baseball or a football. It’s not even a Frisbee. Sometimes it comes in hot, and sometimes it floats down like a feather in the wind.
Eventually, I got the hang of it. But I was a little leaguer next to sure-fire hall-of-famer, a neophyte next to a legend. Long after I was done, Broadbent was still adjusting his airfoils, adding rubber bands for drag, throwing his boomerangs and making catches with his hands and sometimes with his feet. He should have charged admission.
Logan Broadbent winds down after a throw-and-catch session at Cleveland's Edgewater Park. [Photo: Stephanie Jarvis/ideastream]
I climbed into my car when he was finished and the spectacular one-man show was over.
He prepared for a long run.
Because that’s what champions do.