Amidst the planning and preparation for the 2022 Manitoba Games powered by Manitoba Hydro, Ringette Manitoba won’t be forgetting to take a moment to appreciate lacing up their skates.

“It’s such an opportunity and a privilege whenever we get a chance in this current atmosphere to step on the ice and to be adaptable. Because we don’t know what the next changes might be, and we just have to take it one step at a time,” said Lainie Wintrup, Executive Director of Ringette Manitoba.

Here’s what Ringette has in store leading up to the 2022 Manitoba Winter Games, including on and off ice programming, training opportunities and an apprentice coaching program.

Warming Up

With team selection taking place mid-November 2021, Ringette is focusing on getting players back on the ice to get a feel for the technique again.

Instead of concentrating only on competition, they’re concentrating on participation.

“We recognize that obviously our athletes haven’t had much on ice experience. So, we’re going to adjust the platform in the rollout to incorporate a little bit more opportunity for the athletes to get back on the ice and not worry about being evaluated per se,” said Lainie.

As the athletes get back to it, they can then focus on refining some of their skills.

Upcoming Training Opportunities

Lainie said the coaching vetting process has already begun. They’ve also been seeking ice in different places to get programming up and running.

“We’ve developed our plan and we’re rolling forward with that plan. It may not look exactly the same in terms of bigger groups getting together for training camps,” said Lainie.

Rather, she said it might potentially be smaller groups more frequently.

For Ringette coach Katie Shoenborn, who coached at the 2018 Manitoba Winter Games, said if you’re interested to put yourself out there – even if you’re a little unsure.

“We’re going to have some skill sessions and pre-tryout sessions,” said Katie. “So, if you’re eligible, I would encourage the athletes to sign up.”

Although details aren’t finalized, Lainie is also hoping to use this unique year as an opportunity to blend on ice training with some off ice training and incorporate IST (Integrated Sport Training) into the overall plan.

Coach Apprenticeship Program

The Manitoba Games are not only a rewarding experience for athletes, but also for coaches, too.

And Ringette Manitoba is keen on supporting their coaches to be a part of the Games by starting an apprentice coaching program.

“Our goal would be to have apprentice coaches integrate with our planning as we go forward with our programs,” said Lainie. “We’re really excited to be able to offer that other piece as those young women who are enjoying ringette or aging out of qualifying as a player for the Games who have an interest in being a part of that leadership piece and giving back to their sport. We’re looking at a 16-20+ demographic for our apprentice program. So it’s a very multi-generational opportunity for our Manitoba Games.”

An exciting opportunity indeed, as Katie said her experience at the Games was one of the best she’s had.

“If you’re a coach, it’s a totally different experience. For me, I’ve coached for 12 years now and that was one of my favourite years of coaching.”

Ringette Manitoba will be releasing more information this month on the apprentice intake.

The Games Feeling

The thing about a multi-sport event like the Manitoba Games is that it is so much more than just a competition.

It’s an experience that taps into emotion, too. It can create memories and friendships that go well beyond the game.

“It’s such an amazing memory. It’s that mini-Olympic feel,” said Lainie about her past experience at the Games.

For Katie, coaching an undefeated team and winning gold in 2018 is a clear top favourite memory. But it’s also the simple things, like singing with her team during warm-ups, that make the experience what it is.

“We would do our warm-up, running around and doing dynamic stretches before games, and they’re all signing along and having such a good time. It just made the whole experience so much better, because I knew they were having a good time, and that is just the most important part to me that they were enjoying themselves.”

And, while 2022 in Niverville may look and feel a little different because of the pandemic, it won’t change the powerful support from the loyal ringette fans.

“Ringette definitely has a culture of really robust, excited parents that get right into it. They’ll be wearing capes and wigs and the beads and be colour-coordinated,” said Lainie.

Lainie also said there’s another part of it aside from the fun. A multi-sport event like the Manitoba Games develops an athlete’s professionalism, because you can be a part of a larger team and interact with other athletes, including from other sports.

“You get to really take pride in your community in terms of your region and really build on that,” said Lainie. “Sometimes you get into that environment and you surprise yourself because it elevates your level of play.”

Words of Wisdom for Ringette Athletes   

The upcoming Manitoba Games will take place during an unprecedented time. And with that, comes a few key pieces of advice for participants.

“Take the joy in the moment of being able to participate, because we had that taken away from us. Now that we’re back, let’s be excited that you’re able to be back and enjoy the moments of being back, and the comradery and the joy of being able to skate and pass and shoot and make saves as a goalie, and just getting back into that enjoyment on the ice,” said Lainie.

Stay Connected, Get Involved

Stay up to date on all the latest on the Manitoba Games, including information on upcoming registration, skill sessions, tryouts and opportunities for both athletes and coaches. Follow Ringette Manitoba on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook or visit their website.