Wellington North ringette offering a chance to try the sport on March 11

For what it would cost for a large coffee and a muffin, children can play one of the fastest game on ice.

The Wellington North Ring­ette Association has introduced a first-year rate of $125 for any player new to the sport. That is regardless of age. Based on an average of 20 games and as many of 28 practices, the average cost of each ice time works out to $2.75.

Ringette was first introduced in 1963 in North Bay. It is now played in all 10 provinces and the Northwest Territories. It is one of the fastest growing women’s Sports in Europe and Asia. Originally developed for girls, it is now played by boys and girls looking for a cheaper, fast-paced alternative to hockey.

The sport emphasizes skating ability, agility, and hand-eye coordination.

Ringette has more than 50,000 players, coaches, officials, and volunteers.

In ringette the players have sticks without blades and use them to stab a rubber ring. There are no offsides or icings to slow down the play. There are no face offs. Instead the goalie has five seconds to throw the ring to a teammate.

After goals, the victimized team gets the ring at centre ice.

Players cannot go coast-to-coast with the ring but instead must pass it across both blue lines. That encourages team play and gets everyone in­volved.

Goalies wear the same equipment as in hockey but often use a glove on their catching hand instead of a trapper. Ringette games are two periods long with each roughly 20 minutes, depending on the age level. It is non-contact, although the occasional collision does take place. Many players start in ringette and then eventually move on to girl’s hockey.

The transition is not that difficult. Ask former Harvard University sniper Brita Lind. The Regina native played ringette growing up and she did not make the switch until she joined Harvard’s women’s hockey team.

It is also useful in other winter Sports. Just ask Olympic gold-medalist Catriona Lemay-Doan, who started in ringette before switching to the longer blades of speed skating.

The age divisions range from under-7 (bunnies) to masters (30-plus). In Wellington North they begin with bunnies and go up to under-19. Teams in the area compete in the Western Region Ringette Association. They are seeded based on the size of their host centres.

Road trips include visits to Guelph, Elora-Fergus, Owen Sound, Tara, Hanover, and St. Jacobs, Waterloo, and Kitch­ener. Home games and practices are in either Mount Forest or Arthur.

The Wellington North Ringette Association is holding a free Come Try Ringette night March 11 at 6:30 p.m. at the Mount Forest Sports complex.

All participants must have a helmet, skates, and heavy mitts or gloves. Sticks will be provided. Registration forms will be available that night.

For more information contact Christine or Bill at 519-323-9409.