Hockey's sister sport: Ann Arbor Ringette to host free day to try out new ice sport
If you’ve never heard of it, you might want to gather up your kids and find out more about Ann Arbor’s newest sport offering on Saturday, Feb. 18. Ringette, which has been called hockey’s sister sport, “is a fast-paced team sport on ice in which players use a straight stick to pass, carry and shoot a rubber ring to score goals.
Angela Smith | For AnnArbor.com
In Ann Arbor, it is being introduced in response to interest among Ann Arbor hockey players. Sisters Lily and Chloe Gates learned ringette as a practice drill with the Ann Arbor Amateur Hockey Association. Twelve-year-old Chloe enjoyed it so much that she told her coach that she’d be interested in playing on a team. The coach, her father Shawn Gates, looked into it, and found that there are no teams currently in the United States, but that the sport is very popular in Canada and Finland. He is launching Ann Arbor’s Ringette League this spring.
Gates has volunteered as a coach and as the director of the AAHA’s girls program for two years. He will be stepping down from that position this spring to repurpose his volunteer time to launch Ann Arbor Ringette.
Gates says the sport is often marketed to girls, but that he anticipates a co-ed league in Ann Arbor.
He thinks it will be a great additional ice-sport offering for area kids. The sport has similarities to hockey, but the rules are completely unique. “Ringette promotes teamwork by forcing players to pass to each other at each blue line. Also, if you watch any videos, you will see a lot more creativity in skating than typically seen in hockey. This is due to the fact that ringette does not allow as much physical contact as hockey (although there is still quite a bit -- just no checking). This causes players to really look where they are going and to plan out quick maneuvers to get around opponents or to keep the ring from them.
Ringette also is a fast-paced game. Check out this short video clip of Jessica Pepper catching the ring in the air and scoring a goal:
Gates invites kids of all ages to come out for a ringette trial session on Saturday. The Come Try Ringette Event will be at Ann Arbor Ice Cube from 6:15 - 8:05. More information about the event and the sport can befound here. The spring session of ringette will begin with a six-week trial course for $90. Discounts will be offered for interested coaches.
The league will start off playing against teams within the league, but Gates predicts that the suburban Farmington Hills area will also introduce the sport, as they, like Ann Arbor, have a healthy hockey association. He hopes that the league will be able to eventually compete against Canadian teams, and perhaps the US Ringette Team will be able to hold tryouts here instead of in Canada.
Angela Smith is a freelance contributor to AnnArbor.com. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org