White Rock resident Sue Rittinger is on the lookout for other women hockey players, aged 55 and up, who are interested in playing at this year’s BC 55+ Games in Richmond. (Contributed photo)

White Rock woman seeks fellow hockey players for BC 55+ Games

Sue Rittinger aiming to put Zone 3 women’s team together in time for September event

Sue Rittinger started playing hockey 40 years ago, and quickly got used to sideways glances and what she calls “funny looks.”

Back then, of course, women hockey players were still something of a novelty. It wasn’t an Olympic sport as it is today, and there were no female-only leagues in existence, either – at either the youth or adult levels. The creation of women’s professional leagues were still decades away.

“It wasn’t even thought about (at the time). It’s really grown, but at one time, (leagues) were really hard to find,” she told Peace Arch News.

“Back then, they believed hockey was only for men. When I told people that I played hockey, they were surprised that there were any women who played.”

Eventually, after making enough connections with fellow players, Rittinger started a women’s team based out of Vancouver’s Kitsilano neighbourhood. Over the years, a few teams would sprout up across the Lower Mainland, she said, “but they were not well known.”

The 60-year-old White Rock resident still plays the game – in two different leagues, no less – and finds herself in a similar position as she did four decades earlier in Kits: trying to put a team together.

• READ ALSO: 4,200 senior athletes kick off the 55+ BC Games in Kelowna

• READ ALSO: Women’s hockey introduced for first time in BC 55+ Games

This time, Rittinger has her eye on the BC 55+ Games, which are set to be hosted Sept. 15-19 in Richmond. Women’s hockey has been part of the Games since 2018.

Rittinger would like to gather enough players to enter a Zone 3 team – a large region that not only covers Surrey and White Rock, but also the entire Fraser Valley and a little beyond, from Coquitlam to Boston Bar on the north side of the Fraser River, and from Langley to Chilliwack on the south side.

At the last 55+ Games, Rittinger explained, Zone 3 didn’t ice a team at all. It wasn’t for lack of players, either, she said, but simply due to a lack of awareness about the event. As well, communication among players is lacking due to the fact that potential players are scattered far and wide across the Lower Mainland, with many playing recreationally in Vancouver-area leagues – where there is more opportunity – despite living in the Zone 3 region.

Identifying players who are at least 55 years old can be challenging too, Rittinger explained, because there are no specific “old-timers leagues”, as she refers to them, for women as they are for men. Like Rittinger, most women play in leagues for players 30-plus.

“I know the players are out there – I just have to find them,” she said.

“They’re playing all over, so it can be hard to track them down.”

Another problem with having no 55-plus women’s leagues, Rittinger said, is that many older players quit “because they don’t want to play with younger players” which makes it tougher to find players. However, because the women’s game is growing in statue – locally, the Surrey Falcons Female Hockey Association is thriving – she has also noticed women picking up the sport later in life, even if they didn’t play in their youth.

“There are women who are in their 40s of 50s, and they’re loving it,” she said.

Eventually, she expects more leagues to pop up, especially for players who are 50 and above, because “over time, the numerous young players of today will be in their 50s and want a place to play.”

“We also have such a good Canadian women’s (national) team, and we have so many young girls getting involved now, it’s just wonderful,” she said.

Currently, Rittinger said she has eight players onboard for a Zone 3 team, but more are still required. A goaltender is also still needed, she added.

Ideally, Rittinger would like to sign a team up to play in a spring league so they’re well-prepared for the 55+ Games. Registration for the spring happens in mid-February.

Any interested players can email Rittinger at laritz99@telus.net.

With a bit of a head start on finding players, she remains confident that Zone 3 will be well-represented on the ice in Richmond in September.

“With age and injuries, some of us are definitely not at the same level as we were in our younger years,” she said.

“But the passion is still there.”



sports@peacearchnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Seniors

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

WATCH: Yale firefighters fight late night cabin fire in Spuzzum

Neighbours started fighting fire until crews arrived an hour later

Chilliwack youth planning solidarity march against racism

Organizer hoping to ‘create a type of a energy in the city that we will not be silent about racism’

Fraser River freshet peak is coming soon

Predictions for 2020 by River Forecast Centre has the freshet peak at the Mission gauge for June 4-5

Virtual public hearing set for developer with plans to subdivide Willow Street lot

People can submit comments in advance, or call to be added to a speakers list, ahead of June 3rd hearing

Cyclist in his 50s victim of fatal crash near Hope Thursday

Police have ruled out speed, impairment as factors after a tractor-trailer struck a man in his 50s

B.C. records four new COVID-19 cases, Abbotsford hospital outbreak cleared

Four senior home outbreaks also declared over, eight still active

RCMP, coroner investigate murder-suicide on Salt Spring Island

Two dead, police say there is no risk to the public

About 30% of B.C. students return to schools as in-class teaching restarts amid pandemic

Education minister noted that in-class instruction remains optional

Trudeau avoids questions about anti-racism protesters dispersed for Trump photo-op

Prime minister says racism is an issue Canadians must tackle at home, too

B.C.’s Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics goes virtual

The annual event partnering RCMP with Special Olympians is dramatically altered by COVID-19

Bateman program encourages people to sketch outside, connect with nature

#MyNatureSketch initiative encourages Canadians to become ‘bright-eyed three year olds’

Be cautious expanding COVID-19 bubble, Dr. Bonnie Henry tells B.C.

Senior homes stay off-limits as schools, businesses reopen

VIDEO: Yarrow’s Corwin Drew in final four of Vancouver Whitecaps Academy skills competition

The soccer star is looking for community support to get him through the next round of online voting

Most Read