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Posted on Fri, Feb 17, 2012 : 5:27 p.m.

Hockey's sister sport: Ann Arbor Ringette to host free day to try out new ice sport

By Angela Smith

What’s ringette?

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.


Shawn Gates and daughters Lily, 13, and Chloe, 11, stand ready for "Come Try Ringette" day on Saturday.

Angela Smith | For

The sport, originally played in Canada in the 1960’s, “was created in an era when girls were not allowed to play hockey,” Ann Arbor parent Ann Farnham recalls. She remembers playing as a young girl as she grew up in Ontario near one of the sport’s early developers, Red McCarthy. It can be less expensive and more fun than hockey, she adds.

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 She can be reached at


Shawn Gates

Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 5:04 a.m.

The Ann Arbor Ringette schedule and cost is up on the website: The cost is only $90 for 6 weeks. If you're interested, either email or register at


Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 5:30 p.m.

O I really hope this sport does not become another boring Olympic sport out of Canada. That one with the broom and a big rock is so stupid I cannot believe it. Now another sport from Ontario? Please don't. Thanks but no thanks. Hockey or skating. But nothing else that you chase with a stick and a rock or a ring.

Shawn Gates

Mon, Feb 20, 2012 : 3:41 p.m.

Thanks for the good luck. I think it will catch on here. It's great to watch and even more fun to play. My daughter was really in her element out there. She has played hockey for 4 years now and loves it but she can't stop talking about Ringette now. Yes, Ringette has some roots in sexism but at this point in time, it's not like's a game in it's own right. The Canadian girls that came here to help at the event were amazing skaters and had been playing Ringette for a long time. Boys can play Ringette, too. It just hasn't caught on for them so not many play. What's funny to me is that girls and women did play hockey back in 1963 when Ringette was invented. I don't know if there were any co-ed teams but there were quite a few all female teams. Women have actually been playing for a long time. If you are interested, check out the books "Women on Ice" and "Proud Past, Bright Future". These are both excellent books on the history of women's hockey. There are lots of great team pictures in each book as well...really cool.


Sun, Feb 19, 2012 : 5:26 p.m.

No thanks. Anything that is invented to keep girls active is not for me nor my DD. I give her a sport that makes her want to break the glass ceiling. Hockey and ice skating and soccer can do that. Besides ours not a couch potato by any means. Good luck but no thanks to a male dominated sport to give girls something to do because they aren't allowed into a male dominated sport. We should have been more forceful back then. Instead of being handed crumbs. IMO

Shawn Gates

Sun, Feb 19, 2012 : 3:56 a.m.

It's actually extremely hard to become a new Olympic sport so I don't think you need to worry about that (at least not for quite some time). I agree, curling is boring although there are people that would disagree with us. This is nothing like curling. It is more like a cross between hockey and basketball. I wouldn't knock it until you try it. Tonight, the event went VERY well. There were many kids there that play hockey (my own daughters included) and the comments from the hockey players were that this was a lot harder than they thought it would be. Most importantly, they had a ton of fun and many of them want to come back. This is not about being better than hockey or figure skating or any other sport (even the boring ones). This is about kids and giving them something else that gets them off the couch. It's about athleticism, comraderie (sic?), fun and everything in between. Give it a might like it.

Shawn Gates

Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 2:57 a.m.

If you can't up anyway (but bring a helmet)!

Shawn Gates

Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 2:13 a.m.

More details on the event can be found at <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>. Please pre-register there is possible (to help in planning). Bring a helmet (hockey, bike, skateboarding, etc.). If you don't have one we *might* have one but bring one if you can. Here are the primary details: What: Come Try Ringette! FREE Event Bring a helmet (skateboarding, bicycle, hockey, etc.) -- We supply skates, sticks, rings, and FUN. When: Saturday, February 18, 2012, 6:15 pm - 8:05 pm 6:15 pm - 7:10 pm: For All -- New Skaters Welcome! 7:10 pm - 8:05 pm: For Current Skaters And Hockey Players -- Bring Hockey Gear Where: Ann Arbor Ice Cube (Olympic Rink), 2121 Oak Valley Dr., Ann Arbor, MI 48103 For more info on our spring season, go to <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>. To watch a great intro video, got to <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>. Hope to see you there! Shawn


Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 1:30 a.m.

I've read the article three times over looking for the time and place. Saturday in Ann Arbor is pretty broad. Am I missing it? I'd love to take my kids....

Angela Smith

Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 2:31 p.m.

DaisyMae, a links to the Ann Arbor Ice Cube and to the Ann Arbor Ringette website have been added to the end of the article. Mr. gates has also provided additional information below.

Shawn Gates

Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 2:14 a.m.

Hello DaisyMae, I meant to respond here but looks like I did so below...Please see next post. Thanks! Shawn