20 years ago, Brian Elliott and a team of St. Albert parent volunteers decided it was time for St. Albert Ringette to step up and host a major tournament. St. Albert girls were being shut out of annual tournaments because St. Albert was unable to reciprocate largely due to limited access to open ice to host a weekend tournament in our community.
So the challenge began with the search for ice. We learned there was ice available over Thanksgiving weekend, and we were off.
Many thought it was too early and could not be done as teams were not organized and some teams were unable to fit in even one team practice before their first game. In spite of the timing challenges, St Albert Ringette approved the tournament.
In an effort to differentiate it from the `gem` tournament names, in jest at first, the name Turkey Ring was tossed out. It stuck, resulting in one of the ringette’s most coveted medals, the Turkey on the ice with a stick. Who would have thought!!
We started small with 11 teams, mostly from St Albert, the first year. Years later, coaches and parents saw the value of the early tournament - getting the girls to know each other early and bond, parents to gel as a team to support the coaches and players, and to build enthusiastic fans.
In actual fact this tournament gave participating teams a competitive edge of about 3 weeks to a month over teams not involved.
From 11 teams to 74 teams this year, what a success the Turkey Ring Tournament has been for St. Albert Ringette. There clearly is pride taken in this event, from the early volunteers to those that continue to work today, to improve the tournament every year. An event that is fun for the girls, the parents and fans and great for the community.