16 years ago, Lois Ross signed her daughter Emily up for Special Olympics programs and the mother-daughter duo haven’t looked back.
Seeing how much fun the athletes and coaches were having together week after week, Lois decided she wanted to join as an athletics coach and having the certification made it a perfect fit.
After coaching track and field for a while, Lois transitioned into skiing because it fit better with her high school coaching commitments.
Together, Lois and Emily found their stride in the ski program, culminating in Emily being selected to Team Canada for the World Winter Games in Shanghai.
While Emily has won many medals and competed around the world, Lois believes that just having an opportunity to be involved is what matters.
“So it could be a third, it could be a first and that would make no difference to Emily, she would just be really happy to have participated in that and place,” says Lois. “But she would like to do as well as she can.”
Lois has seen tremendous growth from her daughter during her time with Special Olympics and credits the programs in helping her realize her goals.
“I think with Special Olympics, she’s met a lot of athletes who were living on their own or on with a supportive roommate, and Emily really was motivated to move on with her life and find her own place,” said Lois. “And I think Special Olympics played a big part in that independence and seeing that others could do it.”
The inspiration that Emily has gained through Special Olympics has also extended to Lois herself, seeing the high level of commitment that other coaches have dedicated to their athletes and respective programs.
Lois says that participating in the Special Olympics community has helped put more of her life into perspective and that the best part of her week is when she gets to coach her athletes.
“Everybody wants to be there, they're just enthusiastic and fun,” says Lois. “And you know that is very uplifting and inspiring.”
Lois was selected to be an Associate Coach for the Team Alberta cross country skiing team and stated that she is excited to work with a really good coaching team and wonderful group of athletes.
When asked if she was nervous about anything, Lois said "just holding her end up of the deal as a coach," essentially hoping that she is prepared to be the best coach she can be for her athletes.
She also added that she is just excited to learn about the competition and is ready to soak in the experience as a coach.
As Lois mentioned it is an incredible group and they will be working hard to take on the challenge of competing against Canada’s best.
Visit to stay up-to-date with all things Team Alberta 2020.
Friends and family should follow this to find out how they can attend games and cheer on Team Alberta!
Join the pack and support the team through fundraising initiatives like or .
Also, be sure to check out for all the latest news updates regarding the 2020 Special Olympics Canada Winter Games in Thunder Bay from February 25 – 29.