Ringette players feel they're getting the short end of the stick on outdoor rink

·2 min read
Ringette players feel they're getting the short end of the stick on outdoor rink

Ringette players in Ottawa say they've gotten the short end of the stick when it comes to ice time at one of the city's outdoor rinks.

The Jim Tubman Chevrolet Rink in Canterbury Park, southeast of downtown, opened for the season last week, with ice time divided between public skating, pickup hockey and pickup ringette.

While hockey was allotted 21 two-hour time slots each week — with two of those specifically for women — ringette was given a single slot between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Tuesdays.

"How hard do we have to fight to get more ice time for the girls who want to try out the sport, who want to play the sport, who just want to be outside and play some shinny ringette?" said Phyllis Bergmans, president of the City of Ottawa Ringette Association (CORA).

She calls the ice allotment "disappointing" and while she understands there's no comparison between ringette's popularity and hockey's, ringette still attracts around 3,000 players across the city.

Brian Morris/CBC
Brian Morris/CBC

She said CORA does have enough indoor rink time for practices, but the two hours a week is the only chance kids have to play on a city rink with their friends and family.

"This is ringette for fun," she said. "There isn't a kid in Canada who doesn't want to play some sort of outdoor pickup games in the middle of wintertime."

Allocation based on popularity

Camdyn Wilson, 17, has been playing ringette since she was four and is now a coach.

She said she wishes the female-dominated ringette was given equal consideration with male-dominated hockey.

"I think it's very significant and quite sad because so many young girls play ringette and aspire to get better," she said. "Why are boys superior to girls and they get more time and focus?"

Brian Morris/CBC
Brian Morris/CBC

Different sports are allocated specific drop-in sessions each week, the city's general manager for recreation, cultural, and facility services wrote in an email to CBC.

"The frequency of each type of session is based on community demand in the prior season, with yearly adjustments to reflect demand," wrote Dan Chenier, adding that staff can adjust the schedule as they go.

The city runs the rink in partnership with the Canterbury Community Association.

Brian Morris/CBC
Brian Morris/CBC

COVID-19 restrictions limit players

COVID-19 has added another layer to the struggle for ice time as each activity at the rink is limited to 20 people on the ice at any one time, according to the city, with a maximum 30 minutes for each person during busy periods.

Some parents worry how players could be expected to abide by those restrictions under such tight time constraints while also letting everyone have a chance to play.

"We need to have more time slots so it's not as crowded and they can play a proper game of shinny," said Matthew Inniss, whose 12-year-old daughter was on the rink Tuesday.