Close to 1000 girls will be celebrating the game of Ringette at its birthplace as the local organizing committee announced they will be hosting the 2019 Provincial Ringette Championships during March break between March 14th to 17th.
Kelli Van Buskirk is the West Ferris Ringette President. She says they had a lot of competition from other Ontario communities looking to host the event, and to have it at the Sam Jacks arena (West Ferris) is even more special.
“It means a lot, we are very emotionally attached to this arena, it is the birthplace of Ringette right on it and for us it is a nice way for us to say goodbye to have this tournament here,” said Van Buskirk, noting the arena will soon be decommissioned.
Close to 70 teams with players aged 12 all the way to 20 will be competing. Lauryn Hamilton is on the local U19 team and has played the game since she was four. Hamilton considers herself a third generation ringette player. Her grandmother and grandfather were on the board of directors when the sport got its start, her aunt played the game competitively even traveling to Sweden and Finland to play, and her father has been a dedicated parent and ringette official since 1982.
Hamilton is thrilled to get to play some meaningful games on home ice for the provincials.
“We don’t get many fans out because we don’t have tournaments here because none of the southern teams want to come up here because it is a long drive for them,” she said.
Van Buskirk also believes the experience they have drawn from hosting the Ringette Worlds in 2013 will definitely help.
"The benefit to that is we have a lot of the people who helped organize that tournament, have been helping us," noted Van Buskirk.
"Of course ours is going to be much larger event, but more local in terms of the provincial athletes but it has been so great to have that expertise available to us."
The majority of the games will take place at Sam Jacks (West Ferris) arena and Pete Palangio but due to the lack of ice facilities in the city, the tournament will also branch out and have games played in communities as far away as South River and Sundridge.
Other outerlying areas hosting hosting provincial ringette tournament games include Astorville, Powassan and Trout Creek.