The R.I.S.E ringette U16A team and U14A team both won gold at last weekend's Spruce Grove Sweetheart Tournament, marking the first gold medal win of the season for the U16s and fourth for the U14.

U16A Team Manager Robin Macleod said winning the gold for the U16A team was especially sweet since they came close in their last tournament with a silver medal, so finishing the job this time was extra satisfying.

"They were pretty excited, we have lost to the team that we ended up beating in the final game, so to come back and beat them, it was pretty exciting. The girls really rallied around each other to pull out that victory."

R.I.S.E stands for Rockyford, Indus, Strathmore Extreme, as this pilot program brought the three ringette programs together to become one stronger team instead of 3 separate. 

Macleod explained on their own, the three communities' ringette associations weren't big enough to compete with teams in the Chinook League, which includes teams from Calgary, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Airdrie, and other communities. Because of this, the A teams for Rockyford, Indus, and Strathmore often got blown out by other Chinook League teams. By combining their leagues into one, the quality of play has greatly risen to the point where R.I.S.E is now winning gold medals.

"It was to give these local players that wanted to play at a higher level and succeed at a higher level an opportunity to do that."

Given that the season isn't over, Macleod said it's too early to say if the R.I.S.E program is here to stay, as they'll evaluate after the season is over. However, given the organization's success, Macleod expects R.I.S.E to become a permanent fixture in the ringette community.

"The U14 team has done incredibly well, they won gold in all four of the tournaments that they've played in, and they are actually first overall in the Chinook League."

Outside of the on-ice success, Macleod is especially happy to see how the girls have come together, especially when you consider just last season they were rivals.

"It's pretty amazing to see how well these girls have bonded and become a team in such a short period of time." 

Provincials are coming up at the start of March, and regardless of the outcome of that tournament, it's safe to say R.I.S.E has been a great success so far, as our smaller communities have now built teams able to compete with and beat teams that historically have dominated us.

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