For over 20 years, Bev Smith has been with the Lacombe Ringette Association coaching hundreds of girls, including her daughters and granddaughters, through all levels of play.
Smith has volunteered locally and has been on the executive of the local ringette association as well as the provincial ringette association.
She said that her interest has always been building the local ringette community and making the Association stronger.
“What I really like about ringette is that it teaches teamwork. The game is based on working as a team and you have to pass. It’s about players working with their teams and it is really a team building format game. Everybody has to work together to make the game great,” she said.
“It’s lots of fun and is a great winter sport. It can get you through the winter quickly because there is so much going on.”
When Smith is not in the rink she works for the local government doing work within the agriculture branch. Her position within the local ringette association is as a coaching facilitator, which means that she certifies coaches.
“I’m making sure we have good, quality coaches and I’ve been doing that for 10 years or more now. Everybody loves to hear this though – I coached my daughters for 23 years, now I’m coaching U14 with my 12-year-old granddaughter and I’m also coaching my four-year-old granddaughter,” she said.
“I’m probably more of the grandma to ringette than a queen. The fun part for me is coaching my girls. I have coached full circle – my girls and their girls. It gives me a great bond with them and a lot of joy.”
Within the Lacombe Ringette Association, Smith is a director at large as well as a coach liaison and mentor. She has fulfilled many different roles over her years with the group.
Becoming a coach can be a lot of work. Ringette Canada requires coaches to obtain particular credentials and to have multiple certifications. Smith said that the reason she enjoyed coaching so much is because she gets to witness the development and skills grow in the girls and gets the opportunity to build relationships with them.
“There are so many skills in ringette – skating, passing, receiving and a little bit of checking. It’s a total possession game with lots of strategies and tactics. It’s based on basketball, which is why it’s the fastest sport on ice. It’s a game that is very much designed for speed and accuracy,” Smith said.
“I think my favourite group to coach is the U12 age group because that’s when they start the real development and the girls realize and recognize the team play aspect. Teammates become so important to each other and that really translates into lifelong skills.”
Smith explained that the skills she sees girls building are things like confidence, self-esteem and team building, which she sees as vital skills for work situations.
“In the U12 age, they realize how empowering the skills are that can be used for real life. I think that’s my favourite discovery year. That said, the U6 girls are so cute. I loved teaching them how to skate and they’re just so fun.”
Variety has been a part of Smith’s career in that she has coached nearly every age group that plays with the Lacombe Ringette Association. She said that she loves the small girls because of their enthusiasm and learning but that the older girls sometimes reverse the roles and teach her about the sport.
“It’s so excellent to see these girls be successful.”
Smith’s oldest daughter was originally in hockey, mixed with boys and girls. When Smith’s youngest wanted to be in ringette, Smith thought this game was great because it gave the girls a chance to shine.
“My daughters have both played through each level and I have coached them all the way through. I have quite a bit of experience,” she laughed.
“I have been coaching all along, and part of that always ends up being a volunteer for different levels, too.”
Smith has coached some very successful players, such as Jamie and Dailyn Bell, who grew up in Lacombe, played on the Alberta team and are currently in the National Ringette League, having played on Team Canada.
Smith’s love for ringette comes from players and watching the skill development among the girls. Her family has been a part of the Lacombe ringette community for decades and have many years until they are through.
Smith will happily continue to coach for the foreseeable future, she said.