Allison Emberley, left, and Marisa Klawitter are on the regional ringette team which will compete at the B.C. Winter Games later this month in Fort. St. John. (Dean Emberley photo)

Houston players on B.C. Winter Games ringette team

Fort St. John is the host for this year’s event

Two young Houston athletes are playing on the Girls 13-14 regional ringette team in this year’s B.C. Winter Games which take place Feb. 20-23 in Fort St. John.

Allison Emberley and Marisa Klawitter are among 17 players on the team making the trip to the northeastern city as part of the northwest’s Zone 7 contingent of athletes.

Given the widespread geography of the northwest, assembling the team has had its challenges, explains Dean Emberley who is the team’s assistant coach and a Houston resident.

“We are only allowed to practise a few times with each other (B.C. Winter Games rules) had a couple in Terrace and then a few at other regional tournaments,” he said.

Emberley described the Games as a great experience because it draws young athletes from around the province.

“[There are] lots of other activities aside from the sport and you may get a chance to watch some other sports as well.”

“It is great for the athletes to play with new teammates and make great friends. They are usually enjoyed and become a great memory for all,” he said.

For those unfamiliar with ringette, the no-contact sport was created in 1963 by Sam Jacks in North Bay Ontario. Originally designed as an alternative on-ice game for females, it has evolved into a two-gender sport with an emphasis on passing, speed, and team play, says information posted on the B.C. Ringette Association website.

The name comes from the eight-inch hollow rubber ring and players use a straight stick. The game is played on the same size ice surface as hockey with five skaters and a goalie.

More than 1,000 young B.C. athletes are registered to take part in this year’s Games, competing in 15 different sports. The average age is 14.

There’s also a Special Olympics component for speed skating and figure skating and athletes with a disability will compete in skiing-cross country and basketball-wheelchair.

More than 300 coaches are also coming and more than 190 officials have earned certifications to help organize and run the event.

More than 1,600 volunteers in and around Fort St. John have been preparing to host the games for the past 18 months.

* * * * *

In other local ringette news, the Houston U16 team was in Kelowna this past weekend competing at the annual Sweetheart tournament.

Houston also had four u19 players on an a team with Quesnel and Prince George in Kelowna as well, reports Emberley.

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