It doesn’t have the storied history of hockey but the sport of ringette has still been around for half a century which is certainly cause for celebration.
Across Canada, ringette associations will be marking the occasion of its 50th year and the Red Deer association is no different with plans in the process of coming together.
We’re going to form a committee to see what types of ways we can celebrate,” said Wendy Glover, Red Deer vice-president.
She said there is some money available from national and provincial associations in order to help mark this special occasion.
Locally there is a ‘come try it night’ where girls can bring friends or people just interested in the sport can see what it’s all about, she said.
“It doesn’t matter what age group that you start the sport at. There’s still ladies in their 50’s playing the game,” said Glover, who has been playing the sport for 30 years. “We have people coming in at the 12-year-old level as well.”
With close to 300 girls registered for ringette in Red Deer it’s a sign the sport is continuing to flourish and the banners hanging from the rafters in the Dawe arena are an indication the locals are winning their fair share of events.
“We’ve been fortunate in our association to develop some strong players and be able to compete at the provincial level,” she said.
Twelve-year-old Sydney Isbister has been playing ringette since she was seven after giving hockey a shot.
“I didn’t like it because I was the only girl on the team and I couldn’t exactly handle the puck real well,” she said about the switch. “The good focus is the ring is on the stick so the girls can skate with their heads up and they don’t have to worry. They can dodge the players, they can focus on their skating.”
Another aspect is passing over the blue line to enter the attacking zone which requires the players to think a few steps ahead in order to get the ring into the zone, she said.
The sport is also taking hold in various colleges and universities in Alberta with a collegiate league in place, said Glover.
On top of that, a National Ringette League was formed with teams across Canada which is not professional but does have players who perform at the higher level. It’s from this league players are selected to compete against teams from countries like Finland and Sweden at the world championships.
“I think in the next few years you’re going to see a real big growth,” she said. “Ultimately it would be nice to get it down to our neighbouring country. There are teams out of the USA but no associations that were aware of where we can go compete with.”
Over the years the game has developed in order to increase the speed of the game and Glover said the installation of a 30-second clock has helped so a shot has to be taken within that time frame.
“When I started we didn’t even wear shin pads, it was just volleyball knee pads and we went out there and gave our all,” she said.
Now there is specific equipment developed for the sport and it’s helped to raise the talent level over the years and has made the game more strategic, she explained.