Local ringette association approved to move to Stage 2
It has been a very busy month behind the scenes for the St. Marys Ringette Association (SMRA). Since the revised release of Ringette Ontario’s ‘Return to Ringette Guidelines’ on Aug. 10, the executive has been extremely proactive developing protocols and procedures to allow for a safe and quick return to the ice for the many St. Marys and area players who love the “fastest game on ice.”
Part of the challenge facing the SMRA (as well as every other organized activity) is amalgamating policies and procedures with many other partners. As association president Michael Lynch explains, the SMRA has to “follow guidelines set out by Ringette Canada and Ringette Ontario as the governing bodies of the sport.”
They then need to ensure the strategies are consistent with the Pyramid Recreation Centre and the Town of St. Marys policies. In addition, all policies must also correspond with what the Huron-Perth Pubic Health has implemented. “So instead of just writing procedures for our association, we need to work collaboratively with all of our partners to form a set of standards that are acceptable to each partner,” Lynch said.
To help with all the work associated with the “new normal”, each Ringette Association has created a Covid Safety Officer (CSO) position. Kim Garniss, SMRA vice-president, has embraced the additional role as CSO and has been working with her Covid subcommittee to have the SMRA approved to return to ice.
Five stages in plan
Through the hard work of the committee, SMRA has been approved by Ringette Ontario to move to Stage 2 and begin preparing for Stage 3. Stage 2 permits the return to ice for practicing and skill development, while Stage 3 allows for mini-league type games. There are five stages in Ringette Ontario’s plan, with Stage 5 being normal resumption of play.
When St. Marys was approved on Aug. 26, only 17 of the 70-plus associations in the province were approved to move to Stage 2. With a score of 99/100, SMRA clearly demonstrated they were a provincial leader with their plan to return. Currently, there are 30 associations approved for Stage 2.
Another dilemma facing many associations is ice availability. Many facilities do not have ice installed yet. So when will it be installed and what ice time is available is obviously a determining factor for many who hope to start up soon. Every municipality is at its own stage as far as reopening, and in St. Marys the SMRA is fortunate to have a good working relationship with the town and the PRC. Ice scheduler Lori Black has been in constant communication with the PRC, trying to secure ice time.
At a Town Council meeting on Aug. 25, it was confirmed that ice would return at the PRC on Oct. 1. All major ice users have been in constant communication to determine how best to distribute ice time as only one ice pad is expected to be installed at the present time, Lynch noted. This is another situation that is dependent on all partners working together.
Parents and players alike are eager to see what ice times will look like, but until all organizations define their needs and the PRC sets the schedule, it’s a case of wait and see. Black thanks everyone “for your continued support and patience as we work with our Huron-Perth Public Health, Ringette Ontario and the PRC partners.”
Ice fees set for season
Also at Town Council’s Aug. 25 meeting, ice fees were set for the season.
“Although higher than what we anticipated for the duration of 2020, the fee schedule for the entire 2020/21 season is about what we expected after our early meetings with the town,” Lynch said. “However, in the spring, registration fees were initially set at a two percent increase over last year. When in reality, the increase now will be almost 20 percent.
“The association is prepared to absorb a portion of the increase as a little thank you to our members for their patience and understanding as we work through these difficult times. We simply want what is in the best interest of each and every player, and that is our ultimate goal,” the president added.
The registration fee schedule has changed due to Covid, with a new format consisting of two payments. The first payment of $200 (minus a “Covid discount” the SMRA is giving to players whose 2019/20 season ended early due to the pandemic) is due Sept. 15, and a second payment–a yet to be determined amount–is due in January.
Ten players in a group
So what will returning to the ice look like? “That’s the million dollar question at this point,” Lynch responded. “We have to place players into groups. Only 10 players are allowed per grouping. In that grouping, each group of five players must have one coach. A coach can only be with one group, and a player can only be in one group,” the president explains.
The next challenge for the association will be determining how to form the groups. The Coach and Player Development (CPD) subcommittee, led by CPD director Rebecca Myers, has been grappling with this task for the past month and is still trying to determine how best to proceed. It is a very challenging process and the association is trying to maintain the common denominator of what’s in the best interest of each player while ensuring it is done in a fair and equitable manner, all while trying to balance the numbers to meet the imposed protocols.
So what else is still to come from the SMRA? A detailed Covid protocol is still being developed and revised. Updates are being posted on the SMRA website and information will be sent to each family to outline the processes of what players can expect upon their return in October.
SMRA will be using the RAMP Management App this season as part of their team management tool, but also to maintain their Covid questioning and tracing. Once ice time is determined by the PRC, the association will be able to create schedules and will convey that to families.
“We are definitely getting there,” Lynch says. “I can’t thank our families enough for their support and patience during this entire ordeal. Our executive is doing their best to ensure the safest return possible for our players and families. We will all get through this together!”