Haley Hill and Arran Arthur of the Comox Valley won medals at the 2019 World Ringette Championships, Nov. 25-Dec. 1 in Burnaby.
Hill, president of the Comox Valley Ringette Association, was an assistant coach for the American team that won a silver medal. The U.S. played three games in the leadup to the final, winning all but one against Sweden. The Swedes won a close final over the Americans in the President’s Pool.
“I am very proud to be part of worlds again and happy to have a silver medal,” said Hill, who played for the U.S. at the 2016 championships. “It feels wonderful to grow a new branch on my ringette family tree. And, since it was so close to home, many friends and family were able to attend, which made the experience extra special.”
There were seven teams at this year’s championships: Canada senior and junior, Finland senior and junior, Sweden, U.S. and the Czech Republic. Canada and Finland play in their own pool, while the other three nations comprise the President’s Pool. The International Ringette Federation organized the pools this way to keep the play even. Canada and Finland dominate at worlds because they have thousands of players from which to draw.
President’s Pool countries are working hard to grow the sport, but don’t yet have the player numbers. Arthur, who played centre for the Czech team, says this is why it is so important that Canadian players support the growth of the sport in these countries.
“In order for Canada to have more competition at this level, we need to start supporting youth players in countries new to ringette. We need to start nurturing world-level players now.”
Which includes playing at worlds for an international team.
“It was an incredible experience, and I hope that young players in the Czech Republic are inspired by their players that work so hard to get to these championships,” Arthur said.
Veronika Hůlková, the Czech goalie and president of Czech ringette, started playing the sport after seeing it on youtube. She has worked tirelessly to get the team to worlds for the last six years.
“That’s not an easy task, as they only have about 60 players in the country and don’t have regular ice times to practice together as a team,” Arthur said. “Unlike Canada and Finland, they have no team sponsors or government support, so players travel entirely at their own expense.
“I was very honored to play with them and they were incredibly welcoming,” Arthur added. “There were two of us on the team that didn’t speak Czech, so we were grateful for all the translating that teammates and coaches provided. Good thing we all speak whiteboard.”
Arthur came home with a bronze medal and an MVP award.
“I loved the ceremony around each game: the anthems, the lights and music, and both teams mixing up for group photos after. That isn’t something I have experienced in ringette before, and it really added to the experience.”
Hill and Arthur thank all those who donated to their GoFundMe pages, and the support from Equilibrium Lifestyle Management, Happy’s Source for Sports, Rocky Mountain chocolates, De Mon Jardin and Salsa Sundays Cuban Dance Classes.
Games from this year’s worlds are viewable on youtube via a search for ‘World Ringette Championships 2019.’
Anyone wanting to see ringette live in the Comox Valley can check out the teams Sunday nights from 6:45-8 p.m. at Sports Centre #2.
For more information about ringette, or to contact Hill or Arthur about joining a team, visit comoxvalleyringette.com. Registration is ongoing throughout the year.