Every Monday evening and on the odd Tuesday evening throughout the summer months, a group of brave and determined women get together to do something pretty amazing. They gather at Southdale and Max Bell arenas, don their equipment, ace up their skates and they hit the ice to play….ringette!
This is not a group of young girls playing in an organized tournament nor is it a skills camp for ringette players. This is a group of multi-aged women who come from different areas of the city, including River East, just to play the game.
The group varies in size from 15-20 players and consists of many differing skill levels. There are those who grew up playing the game, those who picked up the game later in life and those who are out for the first time to learn an awesome sport!, And they all come together for an hour each week to laugh, to skate, and to play.
The amazing part is not the game itself, which can be pretty slow at times; it is instead the joy in the game that is evident in the way they play. The ones who can skate, do skate and play hard but they also let the newer ones play too. Everyone is included and everyone is encouraged.
It is an amazing thing to see someone who is new to the game score and even more amazing to hear everyone cheer, even the opposing team.
You can’t help but be impressed by the level of sportsmanship shown by these women every time they play. The strong players lead the new ones and are always trying to support them in any way they can. Newer skaters are given the chance to skate with the ring without fear of being checked while, at the same time, the more experienced players love to challenge each other.
Something else that is interesting about this group of women is that many of them play in the Manitoba Ladies Recreational Ringette League on different teams throughout the winter months. They play against each other in the winter then come together for the summer to share the awesome game of ringette with anyone who wants to join in and lace up their skates.
I have been lucky enough to be part of this group this summer and have been inspired and awed by how willing everyone is to share this great game. There are no complaints about ice time or positions or even who is on what team, everyone just shows up with a positive attitude and a desire to play ringette. It is great to see all the different team jerseys from the MLRRL playing together.
I would like to extend a great big thank you to Penny Lesperence for organizing this great ringette opportunity and for putting the teams together each week.
Thank you as well to all the ladies who show up and make this an incredible group to be a part of, I can’t think of a better way to spend the summer.
Suzanne Dyck is a community correspondent for River East.