The Zone 7 Northwest ringette team is in Fort St. John for the BC Winter Games this month. (Contributed Photo)

The Zone 7 Northwest ringette team is in Fort St. John for the BC Winter Games this month. (Contributed Photo)

Regional ringette team off to the BC Winter Games

Players come from Terrace and Houston

Terrace is well represented on the Northwest regional ringette team currently in Fort St. John for the BC Winter Games starting today and lasting until Feb. 24.

The majority of the Zone 7 players are from Terrace. Its head coach and one of its assistant coaches are also from here.

“We have a total of 17 athletes on our team and 15 are from Terrace. The other two are from Houston,” says head coach Raeanne Vandenbroek.

“We have myself as the head coach, my husband Jeremy Vandenbroek as an assistant coach and Dean Emberley from Houston) as an assistant coach.”

With Houston and Terrace being some distance apart, Vandenbroek says the team has had just one practice with all players present.

“We have really lucked out with most of the athletes being from Terrace and on the home team we coach during the season, so we have had a lot of time to work with these athletes,” she says.

BC Winter Games rules also put a limit on the number of practices a full team can have, something that did not affect this team, Vandenbroek added.

“I am not really sure as to why this is a rule, but we are very fortunate that our Terrace kids practice together two-three times per week and they don’t count towards our number of practices,” she says.

“They have also attended all of our BC Winter Games practices as well, so they have been working really hard for this competition.”

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The team’s local players have weekly sessions with Denise Manion at MaXXed Out Cross Training Gym and undertake teambuilding exercises such as attending River Kings games.

“Most of them attend school together as well, so they are a very close group,” Vanderbroek says.

A ringette player herself at the 2004 BC Winter Games held in Port Alberni, Vanderbroek says young athletes will have an incredible experience in a highly competitive atmosphere.

“Some of the zones in our province held tryouts with hundreds of athletes to choose from, so they will definitely be bringing their best,” she notes.

With preparation and practice now behind the team as the Winter Games approaches, Vanderbroek says the team aims to play its best ringette and have an incredible experience.

“These young athletes are treated like mini-Olympians and most of them have never travelled without their parents.

“The Games are important to get out of our own zone and compete against the best athletes in the province,” she says.

“Our [Terrace] athletes went in with great attitudes to the provincial championships last year, and although we were complete underdogs we ended up coming home with gold medals.”

The Terrace players are Rachel Aird, Brianna Anderson, Anika Baber, Tyler-William Brown, Oasis Cleveland, Aurora Cooper, Tawney Cooper, Ashlee Darby, Sasha Davies, Brook Hansen, Emily McLeod, Brooklyn Monsen, Sidney Penner, Ana Purita and Trezden Pushong. Allison Emberley and Marisa Klawitter from Houston round out the squad.

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For those unfamiliar with ringette, the no-contact sport was created in 1963 by Sam Jacks in North Bay Ontario. Originally designed as an alternative on-ice game for females, it has evolved into a two-gender sport with an emphasis on passing, speed, and team play, says information posted on the B.C. Ringette Association website.

The name comes from the eight-inch hollow rubber ring and players use a straight stick. The game is played on the same size ice surface as hockey with five skaters and a goalie.

In addition to ringette, local athletes in archery, figure skating, gymnastics, wheelchair basketball and cross country skiing are also participating.

More than 1,000 young B.C. athletes are registered to take part in this year’s Games, competing in 15 different sports. The average age is 14.

There’s also a Special Olympics component for speed skating and figure skating and athletes with a disability will compete in skiing-cross country and basketball-wheelchair.

More than 300 coaches are also attending the games and more than 190 officials have earned certifications to help organize and run the event.

More than 1,600 volunteers in and around Fort St. John have been preparing to host the games for the past 18 months.