Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Ringette Calgary
by: Jocelyn Beswick, Esso Golden Ring Publicity Coordinator
This year marks the 40th Anniversary of Ringette Calgary, so we interviewed a few long-standing members of Ringette Calgary about their continued devotion to the organization and what exactly Ringette Calgary means to them. We also discussed their involvement in the Esso Golden Ring Tournament, as well as their journey through the sport of Ringette from childhood to adulthood and the evolution of the sport throughout those years.
Laura Webb started playing ringette when she was 12 in Spruce Grove, then moved to Calgary in 1980 for college and played for the first “Belle Rep” team in Calgary. In 1981 Laura joined the board of Ringette Calgary as Publicity Director. Since becoming a member of Ringette Calgary 32 years ago she has loved every challenge and experience this organization has fulfilled in her career in Ringette, as a player, coach, board and committee member.
“Always the best memories [of Ringette Calgary] are the friends that you make […] but my best memory was when we first hosted the 1990 Ringette Championship. Calgary won in all divisions, still unprecedented. A pretty proud moment for Calgary.”
Marlayne Brandsgard started playing Ringette in Thorncliffe in 1977, the first year it was introduced in Calgary. She played on Calgary’s first “Belle Rep Team” in 1980 and the first “Deb Rep Team” in 1981. She attended several Canadian Ringette Championships and has since coached and managed teams. As well, her daughter played throughout the years and is a coach now as well. In 1992 she became the second employee of Ringette Calgary at a part-time level to assist the accountant and she hasn’t ever left! Throughout the years she has volunteered on the NW Board and several subcommittees, as well as for 12 years on the Esso Golden Ring committee. In her own words, “I really enjoy the job, the people, the Board I work for every year, all the volunteers. It is a great organization – I love it. Ringette has always been a passion.”
The constant themes throughout both interviews were universal and pervasive:
Passion: throughout their lives ringette is a constant, each volunteer involved in the sport is passionate about the sport and also about their involvement. Laura fondly reminisces about her involvement in Ringette throughout the years, “this sport and organization is about the friends you make and the relationships you have throughout the years, why their continued involvement is apparent. The truly special thing is I coached for many years […] really neat to see the players I have coached coaching their own daughters now.” Marlayne warmly remembers, “the friendships, the long-lasting friendships I have made with people and to me it is always about the passion the volunteers have for the sport and the amount of time they are willing to put in – overall a good feel.” Both mentioned how thy have found, cultivated and created friendships for life through this organization and this sport.
Leadership: Ringette Calgary as an organization demonstrates continued leadership within the Ringette community, in Calgary but also recognized regionally for their leadership and commitment to the sport and their athletes. “All quadrants [of Ringette Calgary] work together […] especially AA level,” explains Laura. “You can’t have the high-level programs without the base programs. Ringette Calgary ensures that [there is a partnership] between all quadrants.” Relationships are facilitated by this organization throughout all levels of the sport and within the sports community. “Communication amongst our members and the transparency of the association and how it runs is fantastic,” continues Laura. “[With the advancement in technology over the years] social media helps to engage the players as well.”
Legacy: Ringette Calgary is creating a foundation for Ringette in Calgary, and together with the aforementioned leadership, combines to fulfill the foundation the athletes require in the community for continued support of their Ringette careers. Laura remembers the creation of the Ringette Calgary office, “started off with one person, then Marlayne was hired to help,” as a groundwork of the legacy that is Ringette Calgary today. Marlayne has seen throughout the years that, “Ringette Calgary always strives to work together,” the best example, in her opinion is the creation of the, “Ringette Rodeo single-handedly by one volunteer. Kids are coming out and didn’t realize the sport is played on the ice.” The Ringette Rodeo offers ringette gear for those that otherwise would not be able to participate or continue to participate in the game.
Regarding the Esso Golden Ring Tournament specifically, Laura went into the vault and found her favorite memory was to, “go to the bunnies/U7 game, reminds me they are the next generation, reminds me what I am doing it for. Those kids are so happy and I get such a charge of their jerseys hanging down to their knees […] and they go on the ice in packs […] something always makes you smile when you watch the little ones.” Her fondest memory from an organizer standpoint was, “the camaraderie of the committee about 15-20 years ago […] there was a snowstorm and the highways were closed in the mountains. Teams from BC couldn’t get here so that night members of the committee sat down and redid all the scheduling and the game sheets […] everyone pitched in and stayed up all night […] all the new schedules were taken to the coaches at the arenas […] unbelievable we could pull that off.”
Marlayne herself has played in the Esso Golden Ring, as well as coached or watched her daughter play, and her favorite memory, “is the overall excitement [with my family] or in the office. Coming together of all the teams […] on registration night every year everyone comes in excited. That high energy is something I get such a charge out of.” She wanted to send out kudos to all the volunteers, “I get emails afterwards saying it is such a well- run tournament and people are happy to be a part of it.” Overall, we can see that the Esso Golden Ring and Ringette Calgary are important parts of the Ringette Community and of the people involved, each journey is full of passion, leadership and legacy within the community and we all feel blessed to be part of such a great organization.