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player off to world championships
of the world
13, 2000, Gazette)
by Chris Hammond
As the cliche goes, Kimberley Stephenson carries a big stick.
Make that a big sharp stick.
engineering student is the representative for Newfoundland on
Team Canada in the World Championships for Ringette this November
Canada is home to over 9,000 ringette coaches, the sport is perhaps
best known in Ontario, where it began in 1963 and quickly spread
to Quebec and the prairies. Akin to hockey in appearance and
basketball in rules of play, ringette is a team sport on ice
in which players use a straight stick to pass, carry, and shoot
a rubber ring in order to score goals. Although it is played
mainly by females (traditionally excluded from hockey), ringette
is growing in popularity among males: Ontario now boasts a mens
league, and MUNs own Phys Ed Dept is beginning to teach
it, too. Internationally, the game is well-established in Finland
and Sweden, and growing quickly in the U.S., Netherlands, Switzerland,
West Germany, and Japan. Locally, however, although Newfoundland
formed a provincial association for ringette as far back as 1982,
the games more recent exposure in the Canada Games in Corner
Brook has just begun to generate interest, particularly on the
learned ringette in her hometown of Gloucester, Ontario, and,
as part of the Ontario Provincial All-Star Team, came within
an overtime goal of going to the Worlds once before. However,
since graduating from the University of Ottawa with her degree
in Chemistry and moving to Newfoundland three years ago, she
hasnt had much opportunity to keep up with her skills.
played as long as I can remember, but the first year I was here
I was so homesick, it was awhile before I started looking for
ringette, she said. And then there wasnt really
any here so I started playing hockey, which I hadnt done
before. Now that I play hockey, though, I meet all these girls
who have moved here and theyre playing hockey, too, but
theyre actually ringette players.
to playing in the local Senior Womens League, Ms. Stephenson
plays hockey with her (mostly male) classmates once a week, despite
her hectic academic schedule. Ive played competitive
sports my whole life I cant imagine life without
it. Schools crazy and theres always so much on my
plate, so time management has become really important.
on Team Canada, Ms. Stephenson has just recently found out that
shell be getting ice time while shes at the Worlds
not just warming a bench. The coaches told me it
looks like Ill be playing when were in Finland, so
Im really excited.
still another challenge ahead. Each of the 20 women on the team
is responsible for raising $2,000 towards the cost of attending
the Worlds not so much for the working professionals on
the team, maybe, but for a full-time engineering student?
As Ms. Stephenson
explains, The cost of playing is huge, and especially ice
time. During the day its at least $75 an hour and at night
it can get up to $140.
the provincial government recently announced that this fall it
will start supporting players attending prestigious sports competitions,
the move comes too late for Ms. Stephenson. But she is getting
help from sources like Dr. Leonard Lye, who, in his role as Discipline
Chair of Civil Engineering at MUN, has been shaking the bushes
trying to make people aware of his student.
University, and certainly the Faculty of Engineering, has never
before had a full-time student going to a world-level competition
like this. So were very proud and well help her however
we can. he said. Ms. Stephenson is also being assisted
by the regional branch of the National Sports Centre (on MUN
campus), which is providing the athlete with a nutritionist and
Ms. Stephenson would really like is someone to practice against.
Because Im not playing regularly, there are certain
skills Id like to work on more, like timing. You have to
catch the ring when it comes flying at you, so timing is everything.
In hockey, if you keep your stick on the ice the puck will hit
it at some time. But in ringette you have to stab it, you have
to be there and get your stick in the middle of the ring.
As Ms. Stephenson
explains, the game is much harder than many people expect it
to be, and even the goalie from her engineering-class hockey
matches is wary now. I asked him one time if I could shoot
on him with my ringette ring, she said, and he thought
it would be easy because the ring is so much bigger than a puck,
but he couldnt stop it. So now every time I come on the
ice he watches to see what kind of stick I come out with.
But in the
months before the Worlds in November, Ms. Stephenson will be
stickhandling more than the ring. As a student whose work-terms
have been leading towards a career in hydrotechnical engineering
analyzing dam structures, pipelines, rivers, and water
levels, Ms. Stephenson has a full academic load to carry, too.
got my training program and it breaks down to what day I have
to do what at the gym. So, next week I have two assignments for
class due on Monday, another on Tuesday, plus a mid-term that
day, and I have to be at the gym Monday night, Ms. Stephenson
I dont have to meet with the nutritionist until next week!