Ringette and International Growth
Ringette was created by the late Sam Jacks in 1963, in Ontario, Canada, to provide an opportunity for girls to play a team sport during the winter months. Since that time, ringette has grown internationally and is being played in Canada, Finland, Estonia, Sweden, France, and the United States. The sport has also been introduced to Australia, Japan, Czechoslovakia and Switzerland.So far, there have been 5 World Ringette Championships in 1990, 1992, 1994, 1996, 2000 and an International Summit Series in 1998.
Highlights in the Development of Ringette
In 1963 the late Sam Jacks, then the Parks and Recreation Director for the city of North Bay, Ontario outlined the rules for a new sport, ringette. As a recreation leader Mr. Jacks was interested in developing a team ice sport that would involve girls and women. Mr. Jacks teamed up with a colleague Red McCarthy, in determining the equipment to be used and in carrying out the first experiments of playing the game. The first teams began play the following year. In it's early days ringette had a recreational focus, with a goal of including as many girls and women as possible, but without a strong emphasis on developing competitive skills.
The 1970's saw much greater attention to opportunities to develop competitive skills. The sport spread throughout Canada and was beginning to be played in the United States and in Finland. Sadly, Sam Jacks passed away in 1973, before seeing his sport develop internationally.
The 1980's saw ringette being introduced in a number of countries, including Russia, Sweden, Australia and New Zealand. In 1986 the International Ringette Federation was formed, with the goal of introducing both recreational and competitive ringette in new countries and in promoting a World Ringette Championship Tournament. The first championship tournament was held in Canada in 1990. The championship tournament is held every two years, with the site rotated amongst member nations. Each tournament has seen players reach new levels of skating speed, ringhandling, checking, shooting, goaltending and team play. National members are world class athletes, and many are highly successful in other sports. The sport has its greatest strength in Canada and Finland, with Sweden and the Untied States building strong programs. Although they are not at the point of forming National teams, ringette organizations in France and Germany participate in some international competition.
Worldwide, over 50,000 girls and women are registered members of ringette teams. Many less formal programs also exist. In addition, ringette programs for boys and men are also active in Canada. The game does also have an intramural aspect, with some ringette teams - especially in smaller communities - including a limited number of boys on their roster.
While ringette has developed into a highly competitive sport that includes many of the finest athletes in the world, the sport has never lost sight of it's original goal of providing all girls and women with an opportunity to participate in a team ice sport. While Sam Jacks did not have the opportunity to see the great level that his game would reach, his widow, Agnes Jacks, has carried the torch of friendship and competition around the world, assuring that the game would remain unique, with a commitment to it's participants.