By RYAN MCCRACKEN on August 28, 2020.
Ringette players can start getting exciting for an upcoming season of development and competition on the ice.
While there will be no Ed Horvath Interprovincial Ringette Tournament due to public health guidelines, practices are scheduled to begin in mid-October in preparation for the newly-formed Sunny South League – a partnership between Medicine Hat Ringette and the Lethbridge Ringette Association that will allow local athletes to continue competing through the pandemic.
“We really all want our kids getting back to playing and doing some ‘normal’ activities again, and I think being able to play ringette, or whatever the sport is, will definitely help these kids through this,” said Medicine Hat Ringette public relations director Elisha Ammann. “The Medicine Hat Ringette Association has been working for months with Alberta Health Services and Ringette Alberta to be able to establish all the guidelines and protocols that we have to follow, and try to figure out what a new league could look like.”
The key factors in creating that new league are maintaining a maximum cohort size of 50 people, limiting participants to a single sport cohort at a time – meaning players must complete a 14-day non-participation period if transitioning between sport cohorts – and restricting travel to Ringette Alberta’s South Zone.
“Really, within the South Zone, Lethbridge is the only other ringette association, so we partnered with Lethbridge to create the new Sunny South League,” said Ammann. “Another benefit of partnering with Lethbridge was reducing the cost for families. We can certainly see that there are going to be a lot of people that are going to be under some financial strain because they’ve been off work, or have been working less, maybe. We want to be able to help those families out as much as possible, and so being with Lethbridge, that’s not as far to travel.”
Ammann added the goal is to combine four teams into a single cohort and have those squads face off throughout the season in a mini-league. But with a maximum cohort size of 50 people, putting four teams together will require some creative roster management – though it will increase the amount of ice time per player.
“To have four teams, that would put us at 10 girls a team because coaches are included (in the cohort) as well,” she said. “We’re still going to have our regular on-ice practices and the normal skill development that the ringette association offers, and then hopefully a couple times a month we can have games within our cohort with Lethbridge.”
In an effort to increase interest between the pipes, Ammann says players who spend at least two-thirds of the season as a goaltender will receive a full reimbursement of fees, which will be encouraged to go toward equipment costs.
“We certainly know the equipment costs are more to be in goal as well, so when those parents are getting that fee refunded, we’re hoping they’ll reinvest that back into their daughter’s equipment,” said Ammann, adding players who refer a friend will also save 50 per cent on registration. “We’re just trying to make it affordable and fun for the kids.”
For youngsters looking to take their first strides into the world of ringette, Ammann says the Active Start program for ages four-to-six provides a perfect introduction at a cost of $149.
“The Active Start program is so fun for these little girls,” said Ammann. “We have Platinum Star Power Skating certified coaches run the on-ice training. They get 16 weeks of skating, they learn to skate, they learn about ringette and of course they get to have a lot of fun with their friends.”
Medicine Hat Ringette’s complete health and safety guidelines can be found at mhringette.com.
“We have all of our guidelines in place,” she said. “There is a ton of information available on the website for anybody that’s worried about those safety protocols and what it looks like.”