By Ned Bekavac
Now that’s what you call ringing in the new year with style.
“It’s amazing. Words can’t really describe it,” says Guelph’s Abby Richardson.
The year 2013 was just a couple of days old when Richardson won gold at the Under-19 World Ringette Championships in London, Ont.
“It’s something I’ll never forget,” she says.
Richardson and Team Canada East scored the gold medal by beating Finland 6-2 in the championship game at the six-team tournament that, Finnish team aside, was made up mostly of Canadian players.
At 16 years old, Richardson, a centre, was the youngest player on the Team Canada East squad.
While that might sound intimidating, it wasn’t something she sweated at all.
“You get to learn a lot and improve,” she says, of playing with and against older players. “And you have to step up your game just to keep up with them.”
Richardson, a Grade 11 student at Bishop Macdonell high school, got her ringette start when she was four years old. She wanted to follow in the footsteps of her older sister, Kaitlyn.
While she was just a wee one, Richardson recalls those playing days in the Bunny age grouping.
“I didn’t really do much (on the ice),” she says with a laugh.
Today, she’s a world champ – she has the prized medal hanging in her room and can see it every day – with ambitions of one day playing for the Canadian senior national team and in the National Ringette League.
A member of the Guelph U19 AA ringette team, Richardson not only chases rings, but pucks too – she’s also a hockey player.
On this day, after a chat at the West End Community Centre, she boots down the hallway so she can join her Bishop Macdonell Celtics for their District 10 hockey game against the St. James Lions at one of the facility’s two rinks.
Richardson, wearing her Guelph Ringette Association pants as part of her Celtics uniform during the game, would go on to score the game-winning goal in a 2-1 Bishop Mac victory.
But ask her which sport she prefers, and the answer is easy.
“Ringette,” she says, without a moment of thought. “It’s more of a team sport, it’s fast. I like it.”