Sport BC has named Pam Ross its female coach-of-the-year for 2019.
The Courtenay-Comox Shito-ryu instructor recently returned from the Senior Pan American Championships in Panama.
“We (Team Canada) qualified three more people for the Pan-Am Games, to be held in Lima, Peru in August,” Ross said.
One of her Lima-bound athletes — Rita Ngo of Vancouver — is in the rankings to push for a spot at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, where karate will make its debut.
“It’s picture perfect for karate to be hosted in a Japanese setting. We’re (Karate Canada) doing our best to get athletes there.”
Ross has spent many years coaching with Team B.C. and Team Canada since retiring from competition.
“It’s different,” she said of coaching. “You get different forms of stress, different forms of excitement, but you still feel like you’re a part of it.”
During her competitive years, she fondly recalls winning a silver medal at the national championships in 1998 — her first year as a member of the B.C. team.
“I placed (top three) almost every year up until 2009,” said Ross, the logistics manager at Canadian Tire in Courtenay. “Sometimes it would be in forms, and sometimes it would be in sparring and fighting. I was always a duel athlete.”
Todd Robertson at Courtenay-Comox Shito-ryu has been her sensei since Ross was eight years old. She says she is “super fortunate” to have parents who took her to all corners of B.C. to pursue her athletic endeavours. Ross also considers herself fortunate to have flexibility at work. Be it coach or spectator, she plans to be in Tokyo next year.
“It’s extremely demanding,” she said of Olympic karate qualification. “Literally, they take the top 10 of all of the world for each event. There’s only eight events, so 80 athletes in the entire world who practice karate, and there’s millions of practitioners. It’s a very small margin. But I’ve purchased tickets to go, just in case. It’s part of history.”