The Cochrane Ringette Classic Tournament has been packing Cochrane arenas for years and is one of the most anticipated and beloved tournaments of the year.
The 10th annual edition is now in day two and with 50 teams registered it’s the largest version yet.
Local arenas have been a flurry of activity since the tournament started early Friday morning. The Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre (SLSFSC) is the biggest hub for the games, but it also utilizes the Cochrane Arena and now the Red Dutton and Joe Phillips arenas at the Springbank Park For All Seasons.
In all there are 683 participants, says tournament chair Crystal Nagy, who has two daughters in the tournament, and when you add in coaches, parents and well-wishers you’re starting to involve 1,000 people.
While it may not be the largest ringette tournament in the province, it has one of the largest age group spreads. There are players as young as 3 playing on active start teams right up to the speedy and highly-skilled U19 teams.
“We have one out-of-province team from Kelowna (B.C.) and everywhere from Fort Saskatchewan to Pembina to Calgary and Lethbridge, so it spreads all away across the province.”
A tournament of this magnitude takes a small army of volunteers to orchestrate. Nagy says everyone in the association has a volunteer spot this weekend.
Cochrane clearly loves this tournament and droves of businesses and individuals are eager to lend sponsorship. Each tournament participant receives a t-shirt with the name of the gold, silver and bronze sponsors on the back. There’s also many who donate silent auction items and give anonymous donations.
“The support is amazing,” says Nagy. “It’s very humbling when you go and people are waiting for you to come to be asked to be part of the tournament. They tell us ‘We love being part of it’.”
The tournament is without a doubt fantastic for ringette players, but it’s also good for Cochrane’s economy, especially for local restaurants, hotels, convenience stores, gas stations and sports services.
Play continues all day and wraps up tomorrow.