Little more than 10 years ago the idea that ringette had a place in Canadian post secondary institutions was not a topic under consideration. The idea, however, first became a reality in the province of Manitoba with ringette teams starting up in the late 1990's at the Universities of Winnipeg and Manitoba, as well as St. Boniface College.
From the seeds planted in Manitoba the University Ringette tree soon took root in Alberta followed by Ontario, BC and Quebec a few years later. Today, more than 2 dozen universities host a ringette team in Canada. Some teams are competitive in nature while some are less so. In many cases, Canadian universities host more than 1 ringette team.
Along with the explosive growth in university ringette in Canada came the need for a governance structure. As a consequence, the Canadian University and College Ringette Association (CUCRA) was formed a few years ago. Foremost among CUCRA's responsibilities was the need to design rules that would ensure a level playing field among university teams at events such as the University Challenge Cup.
University Ringette provides a wonderful option which keeps many players involved in the sport who would otherwise likely hang up the skates during their years of post secondary study. An instant community of friends awaits young women when they join a university ringette team, while embarking on the most important educational journey of their lives. This dimension of the sport, and the retention it represents, is of great importance to the long term viability of ringette.
Significant scholarships for university ringette players are starting to become a reality. Leading the way, the University of Alberta has a scholarship program in place which makes available more than $50,000 to its players each year. As university ringette becomes more established in Canada many more teams will be able to offer significant scholarships to their players.