The Comox Valley Ringette Association is in its 12th year of existence, and numbers continue to grow yearly across all age groups.
The club sent four teams — three youth and one masters — to the West Coast Classic Jan. 13-15 in Richmond. The tournament is typically the first chance of the year for teams to have gameplay, association president Arran Arthur said.
“But this season, for the first time, we have started having games in the Comox Valley,” she said. “We are part of the Lower Mainland Ringette League’s schedule, and with the benefit of these regular games we saw a big difference in how our athletes competed. We are often aiming for a couple of goals each game and getting all the players engaged in the play. This year, the athletes were passing, checking, using strategy, and played with determination and grace.”
The origins of ringette date back to 1963 when Sam Jacks introduced the sport in North Bay, Ont. Originally developed for girls, the sport is played on ice with a straight, tapered stick and a rubber ring. Like hockey, it’s played throughout Canada and in other countries, at various levels. Unlike hockey, ringette doesn’t involve body-checking.
“Ringette can be an excellent complement to hockey or an alternative if parents are looking for a non-contact ice sport,” said Arthur, whose EU passport enabled her to join the Czech Republic team on two occasions at World Ringette Championship tournaments.
Haley Hill, a past-president and a founding member of the CVRA along with Helen Oliphant and Arthur, has also played and coached at the world tournament. She has also taken several Vancouver Island teams to the BC Winter Games.
“She still helps on the board, and is very dedicated to the sport and its growth on the island,” Arthur said of Hill.
Another important member of the local ringette community is Jennifer Hedican — “another incredible inspiration for the sport,” Arthur said. In nearly 50 years of playing the sport, Hedican has helped the masters team win many gold medals at tournaments. She is now head coach of the Under-14 team.
“We have a good mix of male and female players,” Arthur said. “We are hoping to get more ‘FUNdamentals’ players out, and they can join any time. This age group, five to eight, is where we love to see lots of growth for the future of the association.”
The CVRA is committed to growing the sport Island-wide, but it needs people to start associations in Victoria, Duncan, Port Alberni, Port Hardy, Campbell River and anywhere else with enough interest.
Comox Valley players are only able to compete on the mainland at tournaments, so it would be a huge boost for players to have competition on the Island.
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter