There are alot of girls in town this weekend. Northern girls ,women and families are gathering in The Sault. Ringette is the name of the game. Competition is on. Skates are sharpened. Jerseys are packed. Friends are being reacquainted from points north,east & west. Iroquois Falls, Walden,Valley East, Sudbury, ThunderBay, and The Sault.
The Northeast Regional Ringette Championships, March 27-29,2015 are in full swing. Three locations. McMeekin, Rankin & John Rhodes arenas. Ringette skills are getting a tournament play workout.
Schedule is a busy one, crossing over the age range from Bunnies at 5 -6 years to Open. ‘The Geritol Line’, a term of endearment suggested at a tournament 20 years ago, refers to Sault IceHawks players, including Shelli Ubriaco & Julie Stocks. A humorous moment when their former Coach Wayne Spencer recruited Shelli,Julie and other Sault players to take part in the Open Category.
Open teams encompass a wide ranging age group, including seniors. Shelli and Julie explained “Ringette forges strength through sport, and friendships that are long lasting. Even when we travel to other communities and tournaments, we’re all one big group of friends and families. All of the girls support each other”. Shelli went on to say “I have coached girls who continue to play as adults. Some of whom now have children of their own playing Ringette”.
Both Julie and Shelli will be participating all weekend in Fire & Ice N.E. Regional Championships, Open category. Julie Stock’s daughter Kaitlyn,14 years old,is playing in the U-16 category. Kaitlyn, a member of the Sault IceHawks, has been part of Ringette since she was 5 years old.
Over the years, Wayne Spencer has been a champion for ringette locally, and provincially since 1983. Former coach, and Retired Referee-in-Chief for Ringette, Wayne Spencer’s role over the Regional Championships is to evaluate officials,referees, participating in the tournament. He’s going to be busy.
Ringette is a Canadian game that was first introduced in 1963 in North Bay, Ontario. Developed originally for girls, ringette is a fast-paced team sport on ice in which players use a straight stick to pass, carry, and shoot a rubber ring to score goals.
Sharon Rathbone, volunteer extraordinaire,welcomed families and players coming into the Rhodes Arena. Sharon is a champion grandparent to Sault U16 IceHawks players, Zoey & Shelby Campbell. Sharon was supporting the tournament at an information table, offering The Fire & Ice Programme, a handy resource to keep everything straight over 3 days (March 27-29) of tournament play.
Among extended families filling the Rhodes Centre and other ice pad locations this weekend is ValCaron resident Ray Lemire. “My whole family pretty much is here right now in the Sault. I have 6 granddaughters and 2 daughters playing ringette this weekend.” Ray’s twin granddaughters, Noemie & Ariane Cousineau,age 10 years were on the ice late Friday afternoon at John Rhodes Centre. “There are 3 teams from Sudbury & area here for The Regionals”. Ray Lemire and his family certainly have a full schedule all weekend long.
A rough estimate for total players, coaches, officials,referees,and families is well over one thousand people. There are 43 teams, some travelling with 20 or more members to a team. I’m not sure how that translates in economic terms for The City of Sault Ste.Marie. Suffice it to say, it’s a bit of a bonus.
Locations and game times are listed in the Fire & Ice Tournament Programme, and are available at any of the three ice pad locations for a small donation. It’s an invaluable resource for keeping the games,locations and categories all straight. Tournament Programmes aren’t built without the generous support of community partnerships and business sponsorships. Fire & Ice Regional Championship Programme is full and well supported at 35 pages.