Lauren’s mom, Donnell Schoenhofen, and aunt, Daina Seymour, have provided enough inspiration over the years to show Lauren that her biggest dreams can be accomplished.
‘Ringette is just kind of what we do’: A Regina family’s love for the sport
By: Taylor Shire
Recently, Lauren was named to Canada’s under-21 team for the upcoming World Ringette Championships, set to be played in Calgary beginning on Oct. 30. Lauren is one of two Saskatchewan athletes who made Canada’s roster, along with Maddy Nystrom, who has been Lauren’s best friend since the pair started playing together more than eight years ago.
“Just an amazing feeling to look at all the hard work that I’ve put in over the years and the thousands of hours at the rink,” says Lauren. “To finally have that pay off is unreal ….”
What’s more, Donnell has also been named an assistant coach for Canada. For Lauren, it’s “coach” and not “mom” during the tournament.
“We do a pretty good job of separating mom and coach, but it definitely doesn’t pass me by that it’s unique that we both get to be in this situation together,” says Lauren.
“It’s really important to make sure to separate myself as a coach and as a parent,” adds Donnell, who is the only Saskatchewan-based coach on the team. “It’s a challenge for Lauren as well to try to buck people’s perceptions that she’s getting these opportunities because of me and my role.
“She has achieved what she has because of what she has brought to the ice. She’s earned all of that. It just so happens that our paths are parallel right now.”
This isn’t the first “parallel” situation the family has experienced either.
Earlier this year, Donnell and Daina were part of the all-female coaching staff for Team Saskatchewan’s ringette team at the 2023 Canada Games in Prince Edward Island. Lauren competed as one of the athletes on the squad as they captured the bronze medal for the province’s first medal in 24 years.
One of the athletes from the team that won bronze back in 1999 was Daina.
“I actually brought my bronze medal itself from ‘99 and shared that with the athletes prior to going into the bronze game just to give a little motivation,” says Daina. “It was a neat experience that we all kind of came back together to help out the province.”
Lauren, Donnell and Daina all have unique stories about how they first got involved in sport, but it starts with the older sister, Donnell.
“I remember growing up in east Regina and having a friend who played ringette,” recalls Donnell. “She talked about how much fun it was and how she just loved hanging out with the girls and it was fast.
“It wasn’t hockey, it was something just for girls. And I thought this was cool.”
After going to watch her friend play, Donnell convinced her parents to sign her up. The following season, Donnell, who was eight at the time, joined the Mighty Cupids.
“That’s kind of where things started in 1983 and just haven’t been able to walk away,” she says.
Being six years younger, Daina watched Donnell play for several years before getting the chance to lace up the skates herself. Not only was Daina a spectator for a few years, she also served as the team mascot for Donnell’s U12 team.
“I just became part of it that way, just watching and not really realizing the impact it had on me at that time,” says Daina, who was also recently named an assistant coach for Ringette Canada’s U18 development program.
Naturally, when Lauren was old enough, she got involved in the sport as well. Now 18, she recalls going to public skating at the Al Ritchie Arena while also regularly going to watch her mom and aunt play, as the rink became a second home for her.
“That’s where I grew up,” says Lauren. “Ringette is just so deeply rooted in my family and everyone is always at the rink.
“All I ever wanted to do was be at the rink.”
Daina and Donnell’s father, Ted Haubrich, also played a major role in their success in ringette.
Ted coached both girls as they grew up in the sport and would provide inspiration for both to get involved in coaching, along with mom Brenda, who was a manager.
“He kind of paved the way for myself and my sister to realize that there’s a lot to offer in the sport,” says Daina.
“Even when Daina and I weren’t involved on teams, Dad was coaching,” adds Donnell. “It just really showed us a passion for coaching, not just coaching your own kids.”
As a teenager, Donnell joined her dad behind the bench, helping coach Daina’s teams from U12 to U18.
“To be a part of her ringette journey, as well as to work with my dad, we’ve got a special bond through the years that we coached together,” saysDonnell, who also coached Daina alongside Ted at the 2003 Canada Games.
“Ringette has been a really important part of our journey for decades.”
In the late 1990s, Donnell served as the technical director for Ringette Canada, stationed in Ottawa, before moving back to Saskatchewan to start a family.
In 2010, she was appointed manager of the national team that headed to Finland for the World Ringette Championships. Upon returning home to Regina, she brought Lauren home a poster that was signed by the entire national team.
That poster has hung in Lauren’s bedroom ever since and just the sight of it has fuelled her dream to make the national team herself one day.
“I fell asleep looking at it every night,” says Lauren. “There was never a doubt in my mind that that was what I wanted my next step to be.
“For my mom to have that experience and bring that back, to know that’s something out there that I can strive for … there was never another goal that I had in mind.”
In the fall, Lauren will be attending the University of Calgary, while also playing U19 AA ringette in Calgary. She is eligible for the next national team cycle, along with Donnell, who will serve in her role for the three-year cycle.
Prior to starting a family of her own, Daina won a silver medal at worlds as an alternate for Team Canada in 2000 and was named an apprentice coach for Team Canada in 2008.
Not only is she still playing ringette after 30-plus years in the sport, but she’s got two daughters of her own, Natalie, 14, and Ainsley, 12, who are currently playing in the high-performance stream as well.
“It helps us to create a healthy lifestyle,” says Daina, who has also coached both daughters for several years. “There’s lots of physical activity, there’s friendships, there’s camaraderie, there’s life skills.
“There’s just so much to glean from any sport and this is just the one that our family has found to fall in love with and find a lot of value from.”
The love for the sport is also something Daina’s husband Jeff has fully taken on, becoming a coach as well.
“When me and my husband met, he kind of had to embrace the ringette community because that’s what our family is all about,” says Daina. “Ringette is just kind of what we do.”