Alex Murphy loves ringette.
Her mother Lauren signed her up after finding information about the sport online.
“I loved it,” Alex said.
Four years later, the enjoyment for the sport is still as evident as the first year. And she’s not alone.
“It’s actually the (best) sport I’ve been in,” said teammate Jessica Murphy. “It’s a fun sport for girls.”
The Murphy girls, who are not related, met through ringette and have become close friends.
“It’s fun because you have more friends to hang out with,” Jessica said.
They have both been playing for four years and are now members of the under-12 Charlottetown Ben’s Rats team, which is preparing for this week’s ninth annual ringette tournament being hosted in Charlottetown.
“It’s going to be fun,” Alex said.
The ninth annual Charlottetown Ringette Tournament is the largest ringette tournament ever held on Prince Edward Island with 67 teams in five divisions. There are 34 teams from New Brunswick or Nova Scotia.
The sport has grown by 15 per cent annually on Prince Edward Island for the past six years. There are more than 500 players on teams in Souris, Montague, Charlottetown and Summerside as well as Rustico starting an under-8 team this year.
The sport has witnessed a 25 per cent growth in the Charlottetown area this year alone. Ringette P.E.I. is looking to continue growing the sport by expanding to other communities.
This is the 50th anniversary of Ringette in Canada and tournament organizers are preparing a few special items to celebrate.
Thursday has been declared Islander Night. Spectators are encouraged to support the Upper Room Food Bank by bringing a non-perishable foot item with them to the game. There is no admission charge for the tournament’s games.
On Saturday there will be birthday cake and a video with Sue-Ellen McInnis, a Charlottetown native who won gold last weekend at the world under-19 ringette championship, and Kendra O’Brien from the Atlantic Attack as well as Ringette Canada president Jane Casson.
Kendra Martell plays for the Charlottetown Jones team in the under-16/under-19 division. She started playing hockey before making the switch to ringette about five years ago.
“I found it kind of boring and all my friends were playing ringette, so I started playing too,” she said. “It’s more of a team sport than hockey.”
Martell said the skating and passing skills learned in hockey helped with the transition to ringette.
“It was hard to pick up the ring at first, but other than that it was pretty easy to catch on to,” she said.
This week’s tournament is the only Island event with teams from outside the province in her division, providing her an opportunity to see where they stand regionally.
“It gets really competitive,” Martell said. “Everyone wants to win, but (also) have fun in the process.”
Need to know
Ninth annual Charlottetown Ringette Tournament
What: A four-day tournament
When: From Thursday to Sunday
Divisions: Under-8, under-10, under-12, under-14 and under16/19
Where: CARI Complex, Simmonds Arena, Cody Banks Arena.
Finals: Sunday at CARI Complex
Did you know: There are more than 29,000 players registered on more than 2,000 teams across Canada.
By the numbers:
67 Number of teams
5 Number of age divisions
1,000 More than 1,000 players participating
250 Managers and coaches taking part