Mustangs Ringette Squad Best Kept Secret On Campus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

by Jeffrey Reed, Editor, LondonOntarioSports.com

Although the sport of ringette does not allow intentional body contact, members of the Western Mustangs ringette team are just as intense on the ice as is Mustangs football head coach Greg Marshall barking at officials on the gridiron.

But for the Ellen Thornton-coached ringette squad, it’s off the ice – in particular, when fundraising – that her players engage in no-holds-barred fisticuffs.

Like the five-time national champion Mustangs women’s softball squad, the Mustangs ringette team is a Western varsity squad. But both programs, for the most part, must fight for themselves when raising operational funds.

2018-19 Western Mustangs ringette team. Photo: Mustangs Ringette.

In the case of the ringette team, that means raising $600 at an October bottle and can drive, and raising $2,000 at its second annual indoor beach volleyball tournament Jan. 18 at Spikes in London. That money will help offset accommodation costs at provincial championships March 7-10 in Waterloo.

With an 8-5-1 record against Ontario university teams, and an 0-5-1 record against some of the strongest women’s teams in the Western Region Ringette Association Open AA division (including a 3-1-0 exhibition record this season), the Mustangs ringette team mixes it up with some of the best ringette players in North America.

There is no U Sports league, but Ontario squads compete at university-hosted tournaments and at Ringette Ontario-sanctioned competition, including provincials.

Photo: Facebook.

Ringette Canada says enrollment in the sport is at an all-time high of almost 31,200 participants. Ringette Ontario lists more than 75 local associations and more than 9,500 registered players, 2,600 coaches, 600 referees and countless volunteers. The London Lynx ringette program is one of the province’s strongest. There are seven Londoners on this year’s Mustangs squad.

To call Thornton a hard-core supporter of ringette would be like calling Marshall a pussycat on the sidelines. Although a rookie coach with the Mustangs, Thornton lives and breathes ringette, so much so that she “doesn’t understand the rules of hockey. I don’t even watch the NHL on TV.”

Thornton played minor ringette in London, and eventually started coaching when her oldest daughter, Jensen, a 23-year-old third-year forward/defenceman with the Mustangs, started playing ringette at age 4 in the Bunny program. Her younger daughter, Kayden, 19, is a speedy second-year centre with the Mustangs. She also does a great job engaging the community on and off campus with the team’s social media platforms.

Although the program exists in almost anonymity on campus, Ringette at Western is strong. In previous years, turnout was low, but strong numbers this season saw Thornton cut some girls from the roster. The squad is skilled too, thanks to athletes like Jensen Thornton and third-year goalie Anna Kornmuller, both of whom are keepers with the London United Gryphons first division women’s soccer team.

Team Ontario’s Laura Soper

Rookie centre Laura Soper of Mississauga is one of the best players in the country. She’ll suit up for Team Ontario at the Canada Winter Games Feb. 15 to March 3 at Red Deer, Alta.

“These are skilled athletes,” said coach Thornton. “They are the best of the best, just like our football players. They are 100-per-cent ringette players.”

Practices are held while most of us are wiping sleep out of our eyes. There are also mandatory weekly weightlifting and cardio workouts, too. And when it comes to embracing the community, few teams at Western reach out as far as the ringette squad.

The first annual Ringette Day with Western, part of a Mustangs versus McMaster Marauders clash at Thompson Arena on Jan. 13, saw about 50 young girls, including members of the St. Marys Snipers and Dorchester Dragons, plus about 60 family members and friends, involved in on- and off-ice activities aiming to grow the sport.

“Young teams shadowed our players, warmed up with them, made posters, got face tattoos and ate cupcakes,” explained Thornton. “We made it a full day for them so they would know if they stayed in school and stayed in ringette, then someday they could be here.

2019 Ringette Day with Western. Photo: Facebook.

“These are an amazing group of girls I have at Western, and they all want to give back to the sport,” Thornton added. “They enjoy mentoring these young girls, and want to show them that dreaming of playing for the Mustangs is attainable.”

Said Thornton, “I am very fortunate that the girls I have on this team are very community and team oriented, in that they are happy to work together to help the team as a whole.”

The Mustangs’ next game goes Jan. 27 in Cambridge. Follow the Mustangs at westernmustangs.ca, on Facebook at westernuringette, at Twitter at westernuring and at Instagram at westernuringette.

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About jeffreyreed

A leading Canadian communications professional. Corporate office http://www.JeffreyReedReporting.com established 1989. Publisher/Editor of this website and https://londonontariogolf.com.

2 Responses to “Mustangs Ringette Squad Best Kept Secret On Campus”

  1. Gerald Lamoureux says:

    Its time that Ringette gets funded like the other University sports are. Not fair that boys teams get money and girls teams do not. Wake up Western University and fund the sports that represent your university. Start a trend that other universities will have to copy. Go Western Ringette Mustangs Go.

  2. Margot says:

    I grew up in St.Thomas/London and had only heard of Ringette once in all my life before settling in Whitby and putting my own daughters in the sport up here – I learned about it way too late!
    Keep up the good work with raising Ringette’s profile, this game is awesome.