How ringette has changed over the years

Ringette, a sport invented for girls when they weren’t allowed to play hockey has changed a lot since being invented in North Bay, Ont. in 1963.

Samuel Perry Jacks invented the game of ringette to give girls a chance to play a game on ice and the game has changed to become faster over the years.

“The best thing to ever happen to the game of ringette was the shot clock,” says Iveah Hutchison who has been around ringette for over 20 years.

“The introduction of the shot clock has escalated the game into the fast skill centred sport we see today. It has made the skilled players use their skills,” explains Chris Belan who has been involved ringette since the early 90’s.

Finland had used it for years and when Canada brought it in it was experimented with at the Intermediate (23 and over) level and within a few years it became a standard part of the game at the Petite (U12) and older levels.

The shot clock forces the players to skate to the other end of the ice and shoot the ring within the 30 second time limit.

“The sport has changed immensely since I started coaching. Players used to wear their pads, which were pretty inadequate on the outside of their track suits.  No cages on the helmets and players wore winter gloves or mittens,” explains Greg Crowe who has been coaching since 1977.

Players used to play with coloured sticks, red for defence, white for centre, and blue for forwards- goalies would have pink sticks.

Sticks were made from broken hockey sticks and painted red, white, or blue.

There would be no switching like there is today in the game. The defence weren’t allowed in the offensive zone and the forwards weren’t allowed in the defensive zone.

“Coloured sticks confined the players to only certain sections of the ice, some would hand off their stick to another one to be able to play a different position,” explains Bruce Jacks, son of Sam Jacks who invented ringette.

If a defence had a penalty their team would be short handed in the defensive zone, similarly if a forward had a penalty their team would be short handed in the offensive zone, while if a centre had a penalty they would be short handed in both the offensive and defensive zone.

“Any three in has really changed the dynamic of the game. Players can and should be involved in play all over the ice,” says Beth Veale who has been involved with ringette since 1972.

“The game has gotten faster the teams are better coached and secondary skills like nutrition, mental preparation and fitness are all part of the team experience,” explains Belan.

“The game has become much more serious at the elite level and much more competitive at the rec level,” explains Hutchison.

“The ringette community is very close and provides support for each other, our mother Agnes would say whenever she travelled to tournaments or Nationals,” says Jacks.

“The sport has changed so much for the better. Players are being recognized as athletes and there’s more flexibility in where you can play,” says Veale.

“The passion for the sport from its players continues to this day. That has not changed,” says Hutchison.

“Ringette is a game that a whole family can get involved with, a way of life for some of us,” says Jacks.

Published by Elizabeth Merritt

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