A partner with Davidson Lawyers, Ian Hawes hasn’t been at the office closing many business or real estate deals of late.
Instead, the father of two has been spending countless hours at the rink ensuring all systems are go for the B.C. Ringette A and B Championships starting this morning in Vernon and Lumby.
There are 38 teams in eight divisions. Vernon last hosted the B.C. playdowns in 2009 and Hawes says the goal this time is to increase exposure and attract more players.
“It certainly is exciting for the kids,” said Hawes, a marathon runner with a personal best of two hours, 57 minutes. “It’s a big event and to play in the provincial championships is still a big deal.
“This is a perfect time for Vernon ringette. It gives us an opportunity to showcase the sport to the people of Vernon and the North Okanagan. I kid around and say ringette is the best sport nobody’s ever heard of. If we can use this event as a springboard for more kids and parents knowing about the sport, it’d be great.”
The Greater Vernon Ringette Association is home to 10 teams, with 126 players aged five to 19.
More than 1,000 elementary school children will be bused or will walk to Civic Arena to watch the Vernon U14A Rush tangle with Shuswap today at 10:45 a.m.
“We’re looking to place as high as we can; we think we can medal,” said speedy Rush centre Aly Carter.
The Vernon U16 Adrenaline Rush take on Richmond tonight at 7:15 at Kal Tire Place in the feature game. Mayor Akbal Mund will officially open the tournament and there will be a fan draw for three great prizes, including an iPhone.
Hawes says the association numbers are similar to others with the same population.
“The state of ringette in Vernon is relatively strong,” said Hawes. “It’s been a challenge the last couple of years to play the game. I know that hockey and other sports struggle with numbers. I think we lose more kids to screens than to other sports.”
Garrett Adams is one of the longest-serving male goalies in the female-dominated game.
“Some of the boys get kidded at school, but really, they’re the smartest kids in town,” laughed Hawes.
Hawes took over as president from Ron Racine three years ago and is looking for his own replacement. He praises veteran coaches Warren Carter and Ryan Williamson for mentoring the players in a positive way.
“Our coaches are teaching the kids about sportsmanlike dedication, teamwork, hard work, sportsmanship, all the things that matter in life. We’re building human beings by teaching them life skills. They will be better people for playing ringette.”
Hawes will be watching his girls, Bryn, and Rhys, play in the U14 and U12 groups this weekend.
Saige Woodliffe and Eva Haldane are besties and teammates with the Vernon Under 16 entry.
“We’re very fast, we check hard, we pass well and we never give up,” said Woodliffe, a 16-year-old forward in her ninth year of ringette. “I like to score goals. I’m aggressive and I’m a pretty good skater.”
Haldane is in her eighth season and plays defence.
“I try my best to keep the ring out of our zone,” said Haldane, who turns 16 on March 31, the same birthday as hockey legends Gordie Howe and Pavel Bure. “We wanna win provincials. Kelowna will be our hardest competition. We were pretty even this year.”
Free Come Try Ringette (CTR) sessions are held a few times a year.
The next session is March 14, noon, at Kal Tire Place.
The association also offers gym ringette which Dawn Ponich has been running the last five years.
The program is aimed at exposing students to the sport, and eventually trying it out on ice.
Ponich is currently in 11 different Vernon elementary schools.