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Ringing in the Quesnel new year on an icy note

Quesnel ringette is skating back into strong provincial position
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There are some visual similarities to hockey, but ringette action is a whole other sporting experience, and Quesnel has a long reputation of excelling. (Frank Peebles photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)

Quesnel is once again dipping their pans in the waters of ringette, and finding glints of precious metal.

For the first time since the pandemic, West Fraser Centre will be home to the Gold Pan Ringette Tournament coming up Jan. 5-7 with the host team challenging their counterparts from Prince George, Terrace and Houston.

It’s a further sign that the sport is once again thriving, in the Cariboo. Quesnel has been a hotbed of the ice activity for many years.

“Our little groups are growing. We are getting more and more younger kids,” said Robyn Cassidy acting-president of the Quesnel Ringette Association (QRA) and the local representative for the Northern League. “Our adult league is 20 registrations, and they play on Tuesday nights, and you can still sign up for that anytime, we play right until March. First-time players are always $149.”

If there is a unique refrain heard from all levels of the QRA it is how newly interested players can start anytime, and skating knowledge is not required.

“This is a late-entry sport,” said Cassidy. “You can join up at any age level for the first time. It’s not an expectation that you know how to play ringette, already, no matter what your age is. We will teach you ringette. We will even teach you how to skate. If you want to start at U16, we’re happy to have you, come on out.”

For especially little kids, aged 3-9, the QRA offers the Little Lightning program each Sunday from 4-5:30 p.m. It is offered year-round so no matter when you start, you get eight consecutive weeks of instruction in a group setting with lots of on-ice coaches. Then, if your child likes it, you can keep them going. The fees are small compared to other ice sports.

If you want to try it out for free, in fact, just send an email to quesnelringette@gmail.com or send a message on their Facebook page, and arrangements can be made to attend the appropriate practice for the age group, see how it goes, and then if you want to continue, the registration process can begin.

“We want people of all ages to try it, to see what it’s about,” said Cassidy. “It’s not hockey; it’s very different. It is very team-oriented, and your skating level does not matter. We will teach you or your child how to skate. It’s fine. Come on in and learn the sport and the skating at the same time. We’ve got great coaches. For the Lighting program, it’s almost one-to-one players to coaches on the ice. For our Little Lightnings, they are all brand new, and they are loving it. It’s very focused on the kids, on the fun, and on the skating. Learning the ringette rules will come over time.”

Some local athletes are showing how far one can take the sport, for those so inclined. Last year, Avery Cassidy and Ivy Sinkinson were members of the Zone 8 team that won a medal at the BC Winter Games in Vernon, and both are now playing on U19 rep teams this year.

Tesa Rorke will play for Team BC in the Canadian Ringette Championships, while Elyse Anderson is an affiliate player for that same team travelling to Dieppe, New Brunswick in April.

Those two plus Grace Cassidy and Mylie Schweitzer are on the U16 Zone 8 rep team.

And most exciting of all, from a local audience perspective, is the inclusion of Cassidy, Anderson, Schweitzer plus Izzy Jaroszuk, Nikolai Benson, and Alexis McHone on the Zone 8 team that will compete for a medal on home ice during the Lhtako Quesnel BC Winter Games.

“It’s super exciting to get to showcase our sport, in our community, with high caliber competition,” said Cassidy. “We will have teams from all over the province coming here to play at West Fraser Centre. A large percentage of the Zone 8 team - six of the 15 - are Quesnel players. That’s a sign of how long those players have been involved, and the skills they have learned over time. They are all really excited to show what ringette is, here. Quesnel has been a ringette town for a long, long time.”

READ MORE: Quesnel’s ringette legacy grows by two

READ MORE: Quesnel’s lions of ringette off to Prague

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Defender Sarah Lisk pressures ring carrier Tesa Rorke trying to break out of Team Blue’s own zone, during a ringette demonstration at West Fraser Centre in Quesnel, while goaltender Addison Closs keeps tabs on the play. (Frank Peebles photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)
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Tesa Rorke takes the ring on a rush up ice for Team Blue, during ringette play at West Fraser Centre in Quesnel, with teammate Alexis McHone in support, with Avery Cassidy on Team White in between. (Frank Peebles photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)
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Part of the art of ringette is protecting the ring from defending opponents, seen here with Elyse Anderson carrying is carefully under the watch of Sarah Lisk during West Fraser Centre action in Quesnel. (Frank Peebles photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)


Frank Peebles

About the Author: Frank Peebles

I started my career with Black Press Media fresh out of BCIT in 1994, as part of the startup of the Prince George Free Press, then editor of the Lakes District News.
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