By Larissa Cardey
With the plans set and the decisions made, organizers are finishing the final details of the upcoming 2007 World Ringette Championship.
“Everything’s in place, but there’s still a million things to do,” says Rick Brooks, co-chair of the local organizing committee.
This is the first time Ottawa will host the World Ringette Championship, which will be held from Oct. 30 to Nov. 3. Teams from Finland, Sweden, and the United States will join Team Canada in the competition.
The committee must make sure all the proper equipment is at the Ottawa Civic Centre, where the championship will take place, and ensure the packages with gifts for the athletes arrive at the hotels.
The organization of the event has been “a breeze” thanks to volunteers, Brooks says.
Ottawa won the bid to host the championship on behalf of the City of Ottawa Ringette Association. For a year and a half, the organizing committee has done “everything under the sun” to prepare for the event, Brooks says.
The committee has organized everything from ice time, to activities for the athletes, to the opening and closing ceremonies.
Brooks says hosting the 2007 World Ringette Championship will be good for Ottawa because it will raise the city’s visibility. He believes the more Ottawa hosts the better it will look when trying to bring in bigger events.
“I hope everybody in Ottawa comes to the event,” Brooks says. “I think they’ll have a wonderful time, even if they don’t know anything about ringette.”
The event is being funded by ticket sales and several sponsors.
The portion of the profits the local organizing committee will receive from the event will go towards scholarships and bursaries for Canadian ringette players.
The scholarships and bursaries will likely come from ticket sales and be set up at universities.
If enough money is made then the scholarships and bursaries could go to universities outside of Ottawa as well, Brooks says.
Team Canada head coach Lyndsay Wheelans says her team has been training very hard for the championship and she’s looking forward to seeing them play when it really counts – under pressure.
The athletes have been preparing for the world championship since May when they began their off-ice training program, she says.
The team’s goal is to reclaim the gold, especially since the championship will be at home in Canada, Wheelans says.
The Finnish team was the last world champion in 2004. The gold was last won by Team Canada in 2002, she says.
First-time Team Canada player Stefanie McArdle calls Ottawa home. She says she is really excited about the championship because it will be a great competition on home ice.
“I think that’s going to give us a lot of support and a really big advantage,” she says.
McArdle, 21, has been playing ringette since she was 10 years old and is studying environmental sciences and music at the University of Guelph.
Playing in Ottawa will allow everyone who has supported McArdle to see what she has accomplished and will “help get ringette more established in the community,” she says. “It means that all the people who have been supporting me since I started ringette can see the fruits of my labour.”