Imagine 14 women dressed in bright orange pyjamas crammed inside a store change room’my ringette teammates and I are trying on our team’s colour. We’re in Ottawa for a tournament, and spending our free time at a mall when we discover the PJs. We each grab a pair and ask our coach, one player’s husband, to snap a team picture. He and his camera are quickly escorted out of the store by a saleslady, who is saying, ‘You can’t do that here.’ She thinks he is a voyeur!
This is the perfect example of my team’s sense of humour, and how much fun our group has off the ice. It’s also why we play so well together on the ice: We’re great friends.
Ringette, in case you don’t know the sport, is akin to hockey. But instead of the usual hockey stick and puck, players use a bladeless stick and a rubber ring. And while the rules are similar, ringette is dominated by female athletes.
Ten years ago, a sister of a colleague’I work at a daycare centre’asked me to play on her team. Since I’ve always loved to skate, I thought I would try it for one season. I’ve been playing ever since. Our team meets at least twice a week at our local arena in the Saint-Laurent borough of Montreal, and I never miss a game.
While the team has evolved, it has generally been the same group of women for the past five years. At 51, I’m the oldest; the youngest is 36. We meet in the dressing room before each game to chat and cheer. ‘Saint-Laurent, Go! Saint-Laurent, Go! Go! Go!’ We play hard. We score goals. We scream. Sometimes when we have a game on the weekend, we enjoy going out afterwards or getting together at my place.
Each year, the season starts in the fall and ends in the spring, and the between-season gap feels so long. One year, I organized a croquet game so we could all keep in touch’and maintain our competitive drive’over the summer.
I’ve always been involved in sports, from skiing to golf. These days, my winter schedule is packed with not only ringette but swimming. The two activities are so different, yet surprisingly similar: Very physical and intense, each gets your heart rate up, and to me they are more fun than doing cardio at the gym. And they’re as good as, if not better than, any interval workout. It’s no wonder I don’t have to worry about my weight!
If I’m not at the arena or the pool on weekdays after work, it feels strange. And when the weekend finally comes, I do absolutely nothing. ‘As told to Lisa Hannam
This article was originally titled "They’re crazy about ringette" in the March/April 2009 issue of Best Health. Subscribe today to get the full Best Health experience’and never miss an issue!’and make sure to check out what’s new in the latest issue of Best Health.