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Guelph ringette and Team Ontario player raises the bar for youth

Julia Mezenberg is giving back to a sport that gave her so much

Ringette has been in Julia Mezenberg's life for as long as she can remember, and she has loved every second of it.

The Guelph Predators alumni and former Team Ontario player is setting an example for younger players locally through refereeing and running power skate sessions. She is also the executive for the University of Guelph ringette team.

"I love ringette, it's a huge part of my life and it's taught me so many skills," Mezenberg said.

Satinder Chane, vice-president of the Guelph Predators Ringette Association, said Julia is a great role model and influence for many in the organization, especially as a referee for younger players.

"She's such a sweetheart. She is always smiling, always pleasant," said Chane. "Julia is certainly one of one of those individuals that my kids look up too."

"It makes my heart melt," Mezenberg said about being called an inspiration. “I know how much influence the older girls had in my life as a kid, and to know that I’m doing that is really inspiring, really makes me so happy, because I do want to give back to the sport that has given me so much, and the association as well."

Mezenberg, 20, was introduced to ringette at the tender age of one. Both her parents, John and Jen, were president and treasurer of the association and each coached Mezenberg from three to 19.

"I loved having my mom as a coach, but it was really cool having my dad as a coach just because he is so knowledgeable about the sport. My mom has always been my biggest supporter, but my dad is my go-to motivator and knowledgeable expert,” said Mezenberg.

Another big influence in Mezenberg's passion for ringette is her older sister, Jessica. After watching her games, Mezenberg said she and Jessica would analyze the game. She mentions Jessica is still involved with ringette as a referee.

"The inspiration to continue in the game, inspiration to do well and great team building as well as a role model, needing someone to look up to and Julia is certainly one of those

"The reason I have the knowledge that I have on the sport itself is from watching her play," said Mezenberg. "She was six years older than me, so I was able to watch them play almost every game and I was able to see, analyze and learn."

While she loves the competition, Mezenberg said she likes playing within a team setting.

"All the girls that I've played with, I've played with since five or six-years-old," she said. "At some point, you're not friends anymore, you're a family and I love that."

Having played most positions, Mezenberg likes to be on defense. Called a 'team player' and 'play maker,' Mezenberg is there to help make the assist.

In 2018, Mezenberg and the Guelph Predators U19 team won provincials, a big year-end tournament within ringette. This led the team to represent Team Ontario at the Canadian Ringette Championships in P.E.I. in April 2019 at Summerside and Charlottetown.

Mezenberg said that was her first time winning provincials, and it was 'beyond unreal' when they placed first at the championships for U19.

"I love my grey and yellow jerseys wearing them in Guelph, but it's definitely a different experience wearing red and supporting your province," said Mezenberg.

"We were national champs for 2019, 2020 and 2021 in theory, because there was no one after that after COVID (came)."

While the victory is unforgettable, one of Mezenberg's favourite memories from that tournament happened off the ice, when one of her teammates brought their guitar out in the hotel.

“We all just sat around a table and we sang and laughed and chit-chatted and just enjoyed each other’s company, and it was probably one of the most fun things about that entire weekend. It made us a team, it made us a family and brought us all closer together.”

Out of the jersey, Mezenberg can also be seen in black and white stripes on the ice. Mezenberg said she got into refereeing at 14 and it is a way for her to give back to the sport and help younger kids learn the rules. She has participated as a referee in a U12 provincials tournament and games for U14 and U15 divisions.

"You honestly start to appraciate the refs more," Mezenberg said about her experiences refereeing, adding all her family members are also referees.

"She would be very gentle and very nice to the kids and let them know what the fault was and was very pleasant to work with," Chane said about Mezenberg, adding one of her daughters is planning to become a referee because of her.

"I think she's inspiring other girls to become refs, and not just ringette, but to do other things within the association as well."

Now, Mezenberg is the executive for University of Guelph ringette team and a third-year biomedical toxicology student. When she's finished school, Mezenberg hopes to coach one day like her parents did and play within the Guelph Predators Adult shinny league.

“Ringette is just a way to give you something to do, to give you a purpose that teaches you so many important things and gives you so many important friendships, that it’s worth anyone being a part of.”