The news that the 2015 Canadian Ringette Championships would be held in Wood Buffalo, Alberta might’ve raised a few eyebrows. In the past, when held in Alberta, the tournament has always been hosted by Calgary, Edmonton, or their surrounding communities. This year, however, will take athletes further north than any previous CRC event.
In Alberta, and perhaps throughout Canada as well, anytime someone mentions Fort McMurray, one’s instinctual reaction is to think of the oil sands and the economy. What one doesn’t immediately think about is that Fort McMurray, which is located in the regional municipality of Wood Buffalo, is a growing community with families, children and schools, similar to the residential areas found outside major cities. There is a ringette community there that is trying to grow, and the chance to hold this year’s Canadian Ringette Championships is an opportunity no developing ringette community could pass up.
The Calgary RATH had the opportunity to play a showcase series in Wood Buffalo earlier this year, an experience that held benefits for all involved. “It was really exciting,” one athlete tells us, “to see so many kids at games, cheering and wearing NRL hoodies. You can tell they enjoy the sport, and hopefully having the CRCs there will help to build their program.” Another RATH athlete shared her experience saying, “Fort Mac was really great to us; they cheered hard and showed great hospitality. Players should look forward to the facilities, as they are beautiful… Overall, I’m looking forward to going back! The people there went above and beyond to help us, and that was awesome.”
The Canadian Ringette Championships represent for athletes the culmination of all their hard work and dedication throughout the season. One week of excellent ringette, with ups and downs, hardships and triumphs, and this holds true no matter where the tournament is held. By hosting the CRCs in Wood Buffalo, the people have an opportunity to see their ringette community flourish, and with new facilities comparable to multi-arena complexes found in cities, athletes need not worry about where they are playing. But if there are people out there who are still apprehensive, consider the fact all we really need to play our sport is a rink and two nets. As long as Wood Buffalo provides the ice, athletes can supply the rest.