The new coach for the Garibaldi softball academy has deep roots in Maple Ridge.
Katelyn Ross played from T-ball until graduation with the Ridge Meadows Minor Softball Association. She was a blur on the base-paths – a lefty hitting slapper who was halfway to first base before the shortstop could take a step.
Ross graduated from Thomas Haney in 2006, and the went south on softball scholarships. She played two years with Kansas Community College in Liberal, and then was picked up to finish her eligibility playing for Northeastern Oklahoma State University.
Her life was sports, and it still is – although she makes room for her career as a counsellor with Alouette Addictions.
Ross said she loved university ball, focusing on sports every day from 3-6 p.m. during the week, and then playing double headers and tournaments all weekend. She had to balance training, workouts and maintaining a good GPA.
“It helped me to grow as an individual,” she said.
She graduated on the president’s list with a degree in psychology, and returned home to a career as a drug and alcohol counsellor for Alouette Addictions.
“I love to provide support to my community and their loved ones,” she said. “And it shows, as they can tell that I care about their lives.”
She also returned to ball, as the head coach for the under-10 mite select softball program.
“I love that I provide the opportunity to ensure kids stay active and have fun and have proactive activities to take part in after school,” she said.
“I love to run fundraisers, right now I have a softball hitting clinic fundraiser going that will raise money for the kids sports fundraiser,” she said.
It will assist kids who can’t afford to play softball, so they are able to join a team and not worry about costs. She offers free spots in her clinics to “youth in the community who really want it, and don’t have support to pay it.”
Ross recently accepted the head coaching position for the new Garibaldi secondary softball academy.
“I love that I can train girls at a competitive level, as I completed my degree while being on a softball scholarship in the states,” she said. “I love I can provide direct support in high schools and a team environment. I love I can support my community in more than one way, and that I was chosen to be the lead on this new academy.”
“This is an opportunity I’ve been waiting for – it’s a dream job to do what you love and get paid for it.”
Since she has been involved in minor softball here, she said about 20 local girls have moved on to play on scholarships in the U.S., so opportunities abound. Most NCAA teams have five players on international scholarships.
“All of the Canadians have been successful,” she said. “Canadians are normally top players there.”
She said the new academy will be a unique opportunity for girls who loft the sport to train and develop skills while getting high school credits. They will deal with topics including conditioning, nutrition, mental preparation and life skills.
She said the girls will range from rep to house level in skill.
“I’m going to have to meet the players where they are at,” she said.
“If they work hard and want it, and have the skill level, I’m going to do everything I can to help them get a scholarship.”
The academy will intake 25 girls.
For more information see the school website.