The rumours of ringette’s impending demise have been laid to rest.
Following an information and sponsorship campaign in the fall, the sport is off life support: registration numbers have tripled over last year and sponsors are breathing new energy into the program.
“We had a lot of new people just saying, ‘wow, I never knew. I didn’t know it was an option, didn’t know it was still here,’” explained Minor Ringette’s Carole Schwartz.
Before the season started, the organization was looking at having to move players around to make two teams. Now they have three teams, each with a healthy number of players.
“Had we known at the beginning of the year how good the reception would be, we could have easily made four teams,” Schwartz noted.
The organization drew new players with open registration, a free ‘come try ringette’ event and a skating development clinic included in the cost of registration.
Woolwich Minor Ringette also secured sponsorship from a number of local businesses. Schwartz and her team were delighted at the positive response, having feared people might be suffering from sponsorship burnout.
“It was just basically one request and people were very willing to come on board,” she said.
That sponsorship included a new logo designed with the help of a local shirt supplier, website development and a pamper night at Guys and Dolls Salon and Spa. Some of the sponsorship dollars were used to buy new shirts for the Bunny teams, replacing shirts that were ragged with years of use.
“I think I probably wore them when I was young,” Schwartz said.
Most of the money went towards covering costs in order to keep registration fees low. The organization is focused on keeping costs down, she said, “so it’s an option for families who might not be able to afford a $500 registration.”
Ringette hopes to build on the momentum next year and add a Petite team for the first time in a number of years, expanding from three teams to four.
With so many new players on the ice, the start of the season posed a bit of a challenge for the Woolwich teams. That said, the Bunny teams have coaches on the ice with them to help them learn the game, and the Novices have enjoyed some success on the ice recently.
“It’s overwhelming to be learning to skate and learning the game all at once, but they’re doing great and they’re having fun,” Schwartz said.