Hope provided a getaway location for 80 women last weekend, when teams from the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island gathered for a year-end ringette tournament.
“It was mostly a girls’ weekend away, though a couple of players brought their families along,” said tournament organizer Samantha Morrison.
“We hadn’t had a year-end tournament for about five years,” explained Morrison, a recreation programmer in North Vancouver. “We wanted to have a small event out of town and leave the responsibilities at home and just have fun.
“Last spring, I called around to rec centres and we got a great response from Hope. The ice makers were willing to put in the extra markings for ringette — and the ice was available on that weekend. My mom and I came up in September to meet with recreation staff and we met with the Eagles club on the same weekend.
“The Eagles hosted a dinner-dance for us on Saturday,” she added. “It was a great meal and good fun.”
The tournament was open to masters teams — players aged 30 and up — and the focus was on fun, rather than stiff competition, said Morrison. Through some creative cutting and pasting, five teams were formed for a 10-game round robin tournament.
The Burnaby New Westminster Warriors and Surrey White Rock sHooters came as intact teams and half teams from Comox Cougars and Richmond Fireballs were combined into one: the Cougar-Balls. Morrison and her mom brought along enough players and wannabes from the PoCo-Ridge Meadows club to make two teams.
“Our team split into two and picked up about 10 players who were interested in trying the game,” said the organizer. “Some had played as kids, or they are involved as a parent or have a friend who plays. Some were fairly new to skating or hadn’t dusted off the skates in about 40 years.
“This year there were four mother-daughter pairs at the tournament,” she added.
“I’ve been playing ringette all my life — but a lot of ladies are taking it up in their forties,” said Morrison. “
We have a few players turning 60 this year, who plan to keep playing. My mom is one and it is really inspiring to see these ‘older’ ladies play… no glass ceilings in this sport. There are not too many sports that offer such opportunities to women.”
The game was developed by Sam Jacks of North Bay, Ontario in 1963, as a non-contact ice-based game for females and it has spread to many northern countries.
While there are now elite leagues, the masters recreational players are focused on fun, as shown in many of the guidelines used at the tournament: “If you are not having fun – you are doing it wrong. If your opponent wants to hang out after the game – you are doing it right. Any penalties starting with the letter M (Misconduct, Match, Major) will render the recipient a persona non-grata at the tournament and social functions.”
And finally: “Smile. Dance. Play Ringette!”
Because of the wide ranges of ages and abilities, Morrison said they also used a “Gretzky Rule” where no single player could post more than three goals in a game. Following the opening match on Friday evening, the group held an open session for any locals wanting to try out the game at no cost.
“We only had two 15 year-old boys come out,” said Morrison, laughing. “Not exactly our target group… but they stayed on the ice for the whole hour. Next time, we’ll have to promote it more ahead of time.”
The fun and games weren’t just on the ice. Between playing two games and acting as hosts in two others on Saturday, each team had to go on a scavenger hunt at various businesses in town.
“Teams were asked to wear their jerseys and they had to bowl three strikes at the bowling alley, find the special-of-the-day at the Hope Drive-in, take photos with some of the carvings and find some Rambo memorabilia,” said Morrison. “At the Blue Moose, the staff would give the team a challenge to do, then they would get a cookie that was a moose holding a ringette stick.
“People seemed interested to learn about us and some dropped by the arena to watch us play,” said Morrison. “And the rec centre staff were fabulous!”