2019 Lifetime Achievement Award Winners

RRA President speech – Lifetime achievement award March 23, 2019

On March 23, 2019, the Regina Ringette Association presented the inaugural Lifetime Achievement Awards in a ceremony held in conjunction with the annual Team Staff Appreciation event.   We were so proud and excited to have the opportunity to honor long term members who have been instrumental in the growth and development of ringette in our community.

The Lifetime achievement award is given to an individual, or individuals, who have spent a minimum of 25 years within the Regina Ringette Association, or other Ringette Associations in Saskatchewan.  This award will be presented annually to a Regina Ringette member in recognition of exceptional leadership, service, and a passion for Ringette excellence. Through their actions and contributions, the recipient has helped make Regina Ringette the outstanding Association that it is today.

The award’s scope includes, but is not limited to, the following types of positions:

  • Builder category
  • Player/Mentor/Coach/Manager/Trainer/Official category
  • Volunteer category

For the first year of this prestigious award, we thought it was most appropriate to honor four of the people who played key roles in getting ringette going, not just in Regina, but also in Saskatchewan.   Their passion and dedication to the sport spans over the past 4 1/2 decades, transitioning from their daughters through to their granddaughters playing and participating. Without their continuous support in the development of our game and leagues, we would not be here tonight.

The first founding member to be recognized in 2019 is Mr. Bob Gotts.

From outdoor rinks and pick up games to National and International competitions, ringette has come a long way in Saskatchewan, and it all started when Mr. Gotts and his family moved from Winnipeg to Regina in 1973.   His daughter had played ringette in Winnipeg for 3 years and was quite disappointed to find that it didn’t exist in Regina when they moved here. So, after some prodding, she convinced her dad to get the ball rolling to start ringette up in Regina.

He made a presentation to the Albert Park Rec Center and with approval, and a bit of a battle for ice time, he assembled the first ever (what we would now call) Come Try Ringette event in Regina.  Twenty-three players registered that year, although there were a few more who attended regularly when they tagged along with their friends. They used sticks that Bob provided after scrounging up broken hockey sticks!  Some players even played with a broom stick! Within a couple of years, the sport took off and was soon being played in many communities throughout Saskatchewan. Bob continued to coach for a number of years, was the first president of the Ringette Association of Saskatchewan and also organized the first inter-provincial tournament in Regina.

Bob passed away in September 2014.  His family were present at the ceremony and his daughter Naomi shared a few memories of her dad while accepting the award on behalf of the family.

The family of Bob Gotts:
Left to right:  Daughter Melanie, wife Adeline, Grandson Andrew, Son-in-law Blair
RRA President, Jayda McMillan and Bob Gotts’ daughter Naomi

The 2nd founding member to be recognized in 2019 is Mr. Jim Benning.

You may recognize his name from our Annual Ringette tournament held during the first weekend of January.  Jim first stumbled across ringette while watching a demonstration of it, and he his neighbor Al Heron hopped on board to help get ringette going in their Whitmore Park community.

Jim went on to coach for 36 years and become one of the first certified Officials in Saskatchewan.  He refereed at the National level for 9 years, and then became the Supervisor for the referees for the following 5 years.  In 1980 he received the Sport Volunteer of the Year award in Saskatchewan.

Jim lives here in Regina with his wife Pat and he has three daughters.  Catherine and Margo, still live in Regina and Jeanine now lives in Red Deer.

Jim Benning – addressing the crowd
Jim Benning accepting his award

The third founding member to be recognized in 2019 is Mr. Al Heron.

As mentioned before, Al Heron helped to get ringette started in the Whitmore Park community along with Jim Benning.  He and Jim spent many hours in their garage cutting and painting sticks. In case you didn’t know – ringette used to be played with zones and each player had to have a stick color that corresponded with the zone they played.  White = Center, Blue = Forward, Red = Defense.

Al organized the first meeting to develop playing rules within Regina and Saskatchewan.  He was the first certified instructor for coaches, and was the first coach to enter a team into Nationals, which was a U16AA team.

He also worked with the National Film board to create instructional videos.

Al Heron was a sport consultant for the province’s culture and recreation department and knew there were benefits to becoming a provincial association: A provincial body could apply for funds for clinics and workshops so that each new community could build from the same base, and rules would be correctly interpreted.  A provincial association could also protect volunteers and players from liability in certain accident situations, which was the main reason for wanting a Provincial Association. Since it would be a conflict of interest for a Provincial Sport Consultant to sit on the executive of a Provincial sport association, Mr. Heron did not become a charter member of the Ringette Association of Saskatchewan, but he did approach the volunteers to request their participation.  The Ringette Association of Saskatchewan received its certificate of incorporation under the societies act on Feb 4, 1976.

Al and his wife Claire live in Eston Saskatchewan and he is currently the Mayor of that town of 1061 residences.  He was joined by Claire and his daughter Lisa for the Award Ceremony.

Al Heron addressing the crowd
Al Heron accepting his award.

The Final founding member to be recognized in 2019 is Mr. Hal Kathol.

Mr. Kathol was the leader of the third community in Regina to join the ringette league.  This was the Hillsdale Community. He coached his daughter Lorna for many years and eventually became the Historian for the provincial ringette association.  He was also the first Vice-President for the Ringette Association of Saskatchewan.

As the historian and ringette liaison for the Saskatchewan Sport Hall of Fame, Mr. Kathol collected ringette equipment, crests and buttons from as many ringette communities as possible and created an impressive display.  He even dug up a ring that had been used in the Waterloo Nationals game, where the Saskatchewan Belles (U19) defeated the New Brunswick Belles in October 1980. These items were all entered into the Sask Sport Hall of Fame.

In addition to coaching and volunteering at the local, provincial and National level, Mr. Kathol was also one of the first certified officials in Saskatchewan,

Mr. Kathol passed away in August 2017.  His daughter Lorna and her five daughters (Erin, Merideth, Jolene, River and Erica) were in attendance to represent the Kathol family.  Many will recognize this bunch, as they can still be found roaming the rinks. Not only do Erin and River play ringette now, but Lorna herself STILL plays to this day.  She is the goalie for the Open Misfits.

Lorna speaking to the crowd.
Lorna accepting the award for her father, Hal
Hal Kathol’s daughter Lorna and her daughters, Merideth, Jolene, River and Erica
Left to right:  Al Heron, Lorna Kathol, Adeline Gotts, Naomi Gotts, Jim Benning
It was truly an honor to present these awards to these four gentlemen and their families.  Thank you to the Regina Ringette Association Committee for their time and effort in creating this award and for selecting the recipients.




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