It is a rare occasion when a person establishes a program and over 24 years later still displays the same commitment and dedication as the year she started. Marlene Connell has no limits to her ability. Her organizational skills, work ethic and endless effort to detail have been recognized by many in the sport of Ringette.
The story of Ringette in Berwick began when Marlene, looking for a sport or activity for girls, escorted her daughter to a demonstration clinic at the Berwick Arena. The following year she organized the first group of 13 year old Berwick girls to play in the Junior Belle division. In the early years, teams were organized in partnership with Kentville. With Marlene as President, the program grew to well over 100 players with as many as 7 different teams in any given year.
Marlene has been president for all but two years between 1982 and 2004. She has coached every year as well as refereed. The first two Berwick teams to win provincial championships were in 1989 in Petite C and Novice B. From 1987 to 2004, The Berwick & District Ringette Association has produced 23 provincial champions, as well as hosted many Provincials beginning in 1987. In addition to winning Provincial Championships, The Berwick & District Ringette Association has developed into one of the most consistent and well respected organizations in the Province.
Marlene has been recognized by Sport Nova Scotia as Ringette Volunteer of the Year in 1990, 1995 and 2001. In 1997, she received the Sport Nova Scotia Service Award which goes to an individual that has been involved with a group for at least 10 years. When asked what the game has given to her, she said, "friendships that last, character building type of sport, demands team play and is a family sport".
She coached the Belles Provincial Team in 1994 at Nationals in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and again in 2002 in Moncton, New Brunswick. She coached the provincial Junior team at Nationals in 1999 in Edmonton, Alberta and 2000 in Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia.
She started Debs Ringette (Adult Women) in Wolfville in 1994 and won six provincial championships and joined her 3 daughters in winning the provincial Debs championship in 2004. The entire Connell family is heavily involved in Ringette. Husband Ron has held executive positions and refereed, daughter Rhonda coaches, daughter Melissa coaches and referees, and daughter Heather referees.
In addition to all of her accomplishments, what is most important to Marlene is "keeping the Association going, seeing Berwick players do well, meeting people, travelling and having fun". There are only a few people outside of family that greatly impact one's life. Marlene is one of those people. It is no doubt why a generation of Ringette players owe their love of the game to Marlene Connell.
Inducted June 2004