As the under-21 Canadian team gets ready to take on Team Finland at the World Ringette Championships in Calgary, players and ringette enthusiasts remain optimistic about the future of the game that's continuing to gain traction.
The final, at the Markin MacPhail Centre, will feature players like Max Moisan, an experienced athlete who has been playing the sport since the age of four.
"I think we have a good shot for the final," Moisan said. "I think we have a really good team, really good goalies."
The ringette player knows that Finland is not an easy team to beat but reckons her team has what it takes to give competitors a run for their money.
Moisan, who started her sports journey as a hockey player, was drawn to ringette after she saw her sister playing the game.
She loved how fast-paced the game was and decided to continue honing her skills.
"It's really impressive how, like, we can play and how fast it is, how we can score," she said. "More people are seeing it on TV or on YouTube or … on social media."
Max Moisan, an experienced athlete who has been playing the sport since the age of four, was inspired by her sister to play ringette. (Terri Trembath/CBC)
Moisan is convinced the game is finding more and more takers as it receives better exposure.
"[More] people should have seen ringette to understand, like, the experience we're living right now," she said.
This is a significant year for ringette fans around the world — the sport is marking its 60th anniversary. It was invented by Sam Jacks, a sports coach who kick-started the game in North Bay, Ont., in 1963.
Shelley Coolidge, sport director for Ringette Canada, says it’s important to prioritize building partnerships with ice facilities and recreational directors to make sure athletes can easily access training facilities. (Terri Trembath/CBC)
Room for growth
Shelley Coolidge, sport director for Ringette Canada, thinks the sport has come a long way since 1963 as it continues to grow and evolve.
"In the last year, we know that we've grown 10 per cent. If you were to take a look at coaching, officiating and playing — growing 10 per cent across the board. So again, it's a sport that people are choosing, you know, to become part of," she said.
"We know that there's still interest in the sport, that there's a real opportunity [as] we continue to develop it in a meaningful way."
According to Coolidge, it's important to prioritize building partnerships with ice facilities and recreational directors to make sure athletes can easily access training facilities when needed.
"This sport is going to continue to grow. People love the sport. They're going to continue to play it, and we just need to be able to provide the opportunities in place for them to do so."
Michele Wheeler, who is the co-chair of the 2023 World Ringette Championship committee, hopes to spread more awareness about the game and encourage players to give it a shot. (Terri Trembath/CBC)
Michele Wheeler, co-chair of the 2023 World Ringette Championship committee, has seen her daughter's journey up close as a ringette player and knows it's trickier than it seems.
"You know, there's early morning practices, weekends, even during the week for some of our athletes they're on the ice at 6:30 or as late as 10. And it's tough and there's no regular type of schedule," she said.
"It's a lot of hours, a lot of time. But it's absolutely well worth it for the sport and for these girls."
Her long-term goal is to spread awareness about the game and encourage more players to give it a shot.
"Our goal is always to get more girls involved in sport," she said.
"Over the years, I know our family's been very fortunate to travel to Europe for ringette and across Canada. So, you know, opportunities are there, and it's a great community, a great family to be part of."