Sam McGowan in her Ottawa Ice uniform.

While the NHL is on pause for now until mid-January 2021 at the earliest, I feel this is a good opportunity to consider the merit of another ice sport: ringette.

One of the most important rules in ringette is passing the ring over the blue line. With this rule in place, you have to pass it over to one of your teammates, unlike hockey where one person can go from one end of the ice to the other and carry the team. With ringette, it’s the whole team that is involved. Every player is equal.

But ringette isn’t equal when it comes to its reputation. I should have know since I’ve been playing the sport for 14 years. People would always say, “Ringette isn’t a real sport” or ask me, “If ringette is a real sport, how come it’s not in the Olympics?”

I’ve always wondered about this too. Internationally, ringette is played in a number of countries around the world, including Finland, Sweden, the United States, France, Slovakia, Russia, the Czech Republic and Abu Dhabi.

As Algonquin doesn’t have a hockey team, I’m prepared to accept that it doesn’t have a ringette team either. However, what I won’t accept is that people seem to diss ringette over hockey. As fellow ice-sport athletes, we’re all in the same boat here: we want to play as a team and compete.

Throughout my years of playing ringette, playing on many different teams, raising money, travelling across Ontario for tournaments, I’ve made new friendships and countless memories, I’ve earned many medals and I’ve worked my ass off to get to the top.

And for five years, I’ve also played spring hockey too. Did the people on the hockey side think a ringette player could play competitive hockey? They did not.

I am proud of the accomplishments I’ve made to make me the person that I am today. Quitting ringette in March of last year to focus on school was the hardest thing for me. Knowing that I’ll never get that physical feeling of winning or losing a game with my team is unexplainable. I do want to get back on the ice and play again but due to COVID-19, I don’t think that will be possible a while and it may not feel the same.

Ringette has taught me that no matter how small or big you are, the colour of your skin or your age, every girl and woman on the team is equal. Even though ringette isn’t in the Winter Olympics, girls and woman are playing for the love of the sport and the sport itself is still growing.

Ringette has made it to the Canada winter games our next step is to make it into the Winter Olympic Games.