From The Gazette

Pointe-Claire

With the Coach: Julie Smith

  • Pointe-Claire novice B ringette coach Julie Smith.
    Pointe-Claire novice B ringette coach Julie Smith.
    Photo credit: John Mahoney, The Gazette

With the Coach is a weekly series featuring a conversation with a local coach.
Coach: Julie Smith, a 41-year-old Pointe-Claire architect who works with the city of Montreal
Team: Pointe-Claire novice B Dragons
Years coached: 20
Playing experience: National team/1994 world championships
Best coaching tip: Keep it fun.

Julie Smith, a mother of three, has been involved with ringette for many years, from an elite-level player and a referee, to being a national team coach and steering her daughter’s novice squad this season. Smith says ringette, a Canadian-developed sport that marks its 50th anniversary in 2013, is an ideal team sport for girls of all ages.

As a player, she won a silver with the national team at the 1994 world championships and won a few medals at the national championships as part of Quebec’s team.

How did you start coaching?

Smith: Someone just asked me to coach a team. Back then, I was still active. I went to the world’s the year I started coaching. I was playing ringette in St-Laurent then; they needed a coach. There was a huge shortage of coaches in ringette in general, especially with players. It was 11- and 12-year-olds back then. It was great fun. I learned how to coach with them.

Take us through a typical novice practice.

Smith: At a typical practice, I try to introduce one new skating skill or a new ring skill, but no more. They’re young. You have to make it fun. So you teach them something in a game. For example, if we do sharp turns, then maybe I’ll do a game that involves a relay race that has sharp turns in it. They practise the skills without realizing they are practising it. If you play a game of tag with these kids, they will work harder than if you just do a skating drill.

What is your coaching philosophy?

Smith: Novice is 8- and 9-year-olds. So at this age, it’s got to be fun. The definition of fun changes at the different levels. For the national team, their idea of fun is winning. For these (novice) kids, the idea of fun has nothing to do with winning. My goal here is to get these kids to love ringette. And they love ringette by playing it. So nobody sits. In a game, everyone plays an equal amount of time and they play all the different positions.

What’s the draw to ringette and do you compete with hockey?

Smith: They are really different. They just look similar because we have five players on a team and a goalie that’s wearing pads. It’s a really different sport — not only because it’s girls who play, but the rules are different. In ringette, we must pass the ring at our blue lines. You can’t skate end to end and score. So it’s a team game by default. Also, there’s no contact at all. It’s a passing game. Ringette is actually based on basketball, not hockey.

Is it hard to attract female coaches to ringette?

Smith: Yes, unfortunately. There are not that many ringette players that coach. I also heard many who said that, “I’ll be the assistant coach but I don’t want to be the head coach, too much responsibility.”

One comment

  1. Sounds to me like this young lady has it right .Great sport ,great game .Too many hockey Dads coaching this sport and
    not understanding the difference between the two games.Fastest sport on ice because we can put a player in front of the other teams net and make a pass from our own blueline right into the attack zone without waiting for the ring carrier to cross the blueline.

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