As part of Women’s Sport Week, we profile two of Scotland’s leading female coaches, Shona Malcolm and Karen Ross, both of whom were nominated for Coach of the Year at the recent Team Scotland Scottish Sports Awards.
Shona Malcolm – scottishathletics / Scottish Disability Sport:
Shona started coaching athletics over 30 years ago and started coaching athletes with a disability 25 years ago, when asked to coach athletics within a multi-sports session. Playing a key part in the development of the Forth Valley Flyers disability athletics club formed in 2008, she is now Disability Athletics Development Officer and Officials Recruitment & Development Officer with scottishathletics and the Scottish Disability Sport / scottishathletics National Squad Coach.
In April 2014 Shona stepped into the breach to coach Jo Butterfield when it became apparent that there were no disability throws coaches in Scotland working at the elite level. Learning alongside Jo, Shona has provided the supportive environment for Jo to flourish, both technically and tactically, guiding her to a world records in both discus and club throw events. Jo was in the form of her life at Rio 2016, setting a new world record in the F51 Club Throw as she added the Paralympic title to her 2016 European gold, and gold and bronze from the IPC World Championships in October.
Shona has an abundance of ability, experience and skills and has been selected for the IAAF International Women’s Officials’ international development programme, with only one person in the UK nominated.
In her own time, Shona is also a UK and International athletics official team leader for field events. She put these skills to excellent use in the Olympic and Paralympic Games in London in 2012, and was one of the three field referees at the Commonwealth Games in 2014.
Shona continues to coach on a weekly basis at the Forth Valley Flyers in Grangemouth and the Central Athletics Disability Squad and is a self-effacing, very modest coach who always gives 100% commitment and wants the best for the athletes involved. She truly encapsulates how to be an effective coach by her desire to learn and apply her knowledge to optimise the athletes’ performance. She never loses her roots and still realises the importance of bringing through the next generation of athletes.
Karen Ross – The Tennis Foundation:
Head of Disability Performance Coaching and Talent at the Tennis Foundation, Karen is a highly effective, passionate and inspirational coach working with wheelchair tennis players on the world stage.
In 2006 Karen was coaching Kevin Simpson towards the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing when she was approached to coach the then 14-year-old Gordon Reid. She continued to coach Kevin and Gordon in a voluntary capacity whilst in her day job she worked for Tennis Scotland as a Performance Manager.
In January 2016, ten years of hard work and dedication paid off with an outstanding year for Gordon in which he consistently dominated the world of wheelchair tennis in both singles and doubles events. He claimed his first Grand Slam singles title, beating world number one Shingo Kuniedaat the Australian Open in January, also reaching the doubles final, and didn’t look back. He reversed that order at the French Open, winning the doubles and finishing singles runner-up. At Wimbledon he won the inaugural wheelchair singles event and made it two titles with victory with Alfie Hewett in the doubles. He capped his season with a fantastic performance at the Paralympic Games in Rio, teaming up again with Hewett to take silver in the doubles, before the two faced each other in the singles final, with Gordon prevailing to take gold.
Karen has always worked hard to apply her tennis coaching skills to the wheelchair game, where she had to adapt and modify and work with the players to best understand their individual needs. Karen prioritises what all good coaches should concentrate on – the individual. A great example of Karen’s coaching prowess was her need to learn to coach the backhand, which is an entirely different stroke in the wheelchair game. She did her research watching hours of footage and real-life tennis in order to have secure knowledge and understanding, continually building round the individual preference of her players.
Over the past decade Karen has honed her coaching craft to nurture players to the highest level of performance, with considerable international success.
To find out more about Women’s Sport Week visit: https://www.womeninsport.org//