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					Addendum Reflections on the beginning of Ringette in Nova Scotia.   Development Lessons Learned

Development: The original organization was called Nova Scotia Ringette Association, NSRA for short, this acronym was too associated with NS Rifle Association, hence the need for change. The change put the sport first, Ringette Nova Scotia. With help of Sport Nova Scotia incorporation was done and they became a source of material, printing and lots of administrative task. A dream come true and it certainly shorten the development cycle. My employer too was a great support in use of some equipment, i.e., composing typewriters, copying in last minute situations. They recognized my community involvement with a company wide recognition. (No money though.) Once the community of Bedford and Sackville had their first registration, the sport took off. We had request from Musquodoboit for Ringette and in those early years they did have an organization. Cole Harbour Ringette under the leadership of June Thomas, followed by Woodlawn or Dartmouth Ringette association a year or two later. Shannon Park Ringette Association took hold the year after Bedford under the watchful eye of Bernie Cockburn, known from coast to coast in the Ringette realm. Canning, Nova Scotia under the leadership of Dora Silver, Pictou lead by Bob and Maxine Galvin, Antigonish with Dan MacKay. Other communities included Thorburn, District of Clare, Sydney (indoor Ringette) and Stellarton. Other attempts were made at Dalhousie University, North-end Halifax. During the third year, Central Ringette Association was formed with Ann MacVicar taking on the role of President and the Highlands Ringette Association. It was for certain it seemed that Ringette was here to stay.

Lessons Learned: Prior to being involved with the sport of Ringette, I was it seemed very concerned about sportsmanship and fair play for all children involved in sports. Coming from an under-privilege background or an orphanage perhaps had much to do with this outlook on life. The sport of Ringette provided me an opportunity to encourage and to foster that ideal that was so much a part of the sport. In NS we had spotters that would go to games to seek out special acts of sportsmanship and award either teams or players with a token decal to put on their helmets. This decal was designed and donated by a neighbor friend Don Jeffrey who was in the sign making business. (None available for this CD package.) Taking it a step further, my wife and I donated a trophy in the form of plaque

to the Provincial Tweens tournament for the team that exhibited the ideal of sportsmanship. One example that I often used to illustrate sportsmanship and a wellplayed game versus one that wasn‟t, was to point out that in a game filled with lots of bad sportsmanship would be long remembered after the score has been forgotten. It was my outlook that playing the game for as many girls as possible was an ideal that was always in my mind, yes excellence was important and to have all star teams etc. But those teams would always find leadership, but the girl who played the sport for the first time was the one that the future was always the brightest. It was in this context that I remembered that adults and regulations could kill a sport and the recreational base. It would seem that the recreational base if handled correctly could add to the health of the players physically and mentally. I often watched my sons out playing street hockey either on the street or our backyard, they would play for hours, no referee, no coach and change the rules on the fly without any fights. Strong words maybe, but never a fight. They would come in exhausted and back at it again the next day. It too, kept them from the big tube (TV). When we organize this activity, the rules and involvement of adults can bring out the worse and has to be guarded against. A psychologist friend once remarked to me that aggression is taught or caught, it isn‟t inborn. A lesson on promotion and organization was finely illustrated for our first demo game, whereas I sent out 130 invitations to people whom I though should be interested. Only about six showed up. Here we were two teams, two coaches and two referees. Not even the recreation commission people were on hand. One county councilor, one executive from the department of recreation, (Ken Bellemare), Joyce Meyers, (a member of Curling NS and a board member of Sport Nova Scotia), Marlene Mullenger, (a member of Curling NS and a member of Halifax Recreation), my wife and myself. The game was played to a virtually empty arena, however, at the end of the game, Bellemare turned to the two ladies and asked a direct question. “Should this sport be supported by the Department of Recreation”? The response was a cautious “Yes”. The lesson learned was that success if measured by numbers, this would have been a complete failure, but when measured by the quality of those in attendance, then it was a resounding success. Later did I find out, in fact only last year, that most people in sports thought I was crazy trying to start a sport like Ringette in Nova Scotia. However, Ken Mantin then Executive Director of Sport Nova Scotia believed in me and my project and was a very big administrative supporter, nurturing and teaching as we went along. Had I know what others were thinking perhaps I wouldn‟t have accepted the invitation to go to a Sports symposium being held at St. Mary‟s University. It was the scariest thing I ever done, when in the middle of a presentation a question was asked and at that moment I seized the opportunity to speak and bridge the subject of Ringette. All heads turned towards me with a big quizzical look, and at that moment I was asked to explain this sport called Ringette. It was scary, and it was a pivotal point in my crusade to get this sport off the ground. I‟m sure I lost weight that day, but the banquet dinner help to restore my fluid level and the calories lost in that opening talk on Ringette. The banquet dinner the Minister of Recreation invited the introduction of Ringette into Nova Scotia. WOW.

The lesson learned was one that was summarized for me years later, “Sometimes you have to ignore the background noise in order to proceed towards your goal.” An observation from visiting many communities and trying to introduce the sport was to come up against people who thought that the girls didn‟t belong in the rinks unless maybe they were to play hockey, but then they‟d have to have their own teams. Sometime one of the first questions in form of a comment was, “I suppose you have daughters”. Well this one I really enjoyed, “No I don‟t but I do have a wish to make rinks a community endeavour and think that girls need the opportunity to enjoy winter and the „espirit de cour‟ that comes from team play.” Lesson was that many people suspect greed as being the motivating factor for anyone who seems to want to do good, and/or money, and/or power. They had a difficult time with me, since I didn‟t want any of this nor the recognition that followed. It was a game for the girls and one that deserved community support. Media was a whole new experience in that I had to find the friends of Ringette in the media community, I am sure that behind closed doors unknown to me, that Ken Mantin was at work. Doug Saunders of the CBC was extremely helpful and showed a willingness to interview and tape the early intro of the sport. Gordon Murray, The Chronicle Herald picked up where Ron Russell, (former Sports Reporter) left off and was always available when we had newsworthy events. CJCH Dan MacIsaac was another. These contacts proved very helpful, when Ringette Nova Scotia along with the Central Ringette Association hosted the 1982 Canadian Ringette Championships. Our first every press reception was held at Oland‟s Brewery reception center. Sport Nova Scotia assisted with their expertise. I never realized how important and an awesome responsibility the media has and sometimes wonder today if they do their job without hidden agendas. For example, MacIsaac had left CJCH and ATV, a younger man had taken over and he did not have time for Ringette. It took personal influence with the station manager to get ATV, CJCH participation in the press reception. The reception was to explain the sport and to give out information. It is a rocky road dealing with the media. The finally analysis and advice I can give and give to others even in a square dancing community that my wife and I once belonged, is to take great concern and honor those first time players as they are the live blood of your activity, without them success will be elusive. I can honestly say, that I have received more from the sport of Ringette than I have ever gave, the success of the sport most deservingly goes to the girls who play the sport and continue supporting it today and to those parents who become actively involved. Thanks to those adults who give of their time without batting an eye when asked to help. Having had to deal with various sports, sports figures, and associations was the most difficult part of being involved in minor sports. A politician once said to me after I had a run in with another provincial association, that there is more politics in sports than there is in politics.

Herm Wills


				
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