Kendel Ross is the Head Coach for Lambton College’s women’s basketball team. From Sarnia, Ontario, Kendel Ross was a standout athlete on the Senior Women’s Basketball team in high school and was recruited to NCAA Division I school, the University of Dayton. At Dayton, Kendel excelled both on and off the court, earning her degree and becoming a two-time team captain. She played for the Canadian National program for many years and played professionally overseas. She returned home and began coaching her former high school team. Shortly after, she earned the position of head coach for the Lambton College Women’s Varsity Basketball team. Now Kendel has a busy schedule of strength and conditioning coaching for clients on top of teaching and coaching at the College. It was my pleasure to be able to interview her for SPMA.
Tell us about your role as Varsity Women’s Basketball Coach with Lambton College.
I love being the women’s basketball coach at Lambton. It has really made my transition out of playing so seamless by allowing me to stay so involved in the game.
My day often looks like that little running woman emoji 🏃. Since I am fortunate to hold multiple positions in the city I am always flying around between locations. My day often starts at LD fitness at 6 or 7 am working with a client on their wellness. Then (I try) to go and get my workout in so I can stay my best for the people I work with. Next, I run off to the college to teach. Many days I run over to Northern High School in Sarnia to assist John Thrasher (My high school coach) with the senior girl’s basketball practice after school. Then back to Lambton for our varsity practice. In the evening I am always happy to come home to my husband Mike, who is clearly wildly supportive of all my endeavors.
Weekends are packed with recruiting and games but somewhere in there, I like to touch base with my family, whether it be at my parents or one of my three sister’s houses where I get to hang out with one or two of my 5 (soon to be 6) nieces/nephews. Many people will also often see my Grandpa Ross out at games, he has barely missed a home game since I started playing.
Are there any parallels between being a professor and being a coach?
There are absolutely parallels between being a coach and being a professor. Both professions are teaching, the only difference is the subject matter. We definitely challenge our athletes more physically but I would like to think the mental challenge for both students and athletes is similar. We are constantly evaluating both students and athletes and providing guidance based on that evaluation.
How do you think you have impacted others around you in your career?
That’s a tough one. I mean I suppose you would have to ask them to be sure but I always hope to be a resource for all those I work with whether that is a co-worker, student, player, or client. I will say that it has always been my goal that when the Lambton players leave our program they have what they need to be leaders in their communities.
What is the best thing about your position as the Head Coach of the Lambton Lions?
The opportunity to work with so many different people. My basketball career granted me the opportunity to travel around the world and it made me fall in love with diversity. I love that in the classroom, on the road or on-court I am always meeting someone new that can maybe teach me something.
What advice would you give to aspiring athletes?
Reps. Reps. Reps. Find a mentor that can teach you something that will truly affect your game and then work at it like a mad dog. Too many people today think success is a light switch. Success is built, tirelessly and relentlessly behind closed doors.
What are some things you’ve taken away from playing basketball that you can apply day-to-day in your career?
First, work = success. If you are not successful, you haven’t worked hard enough yet. Second, communication is the single most valuable skill you will learn in your life. and communicating properly sometimes means to simply just listen. Lastly, We are all so much stronger and tougher than we think we are. When you have pushed your body to it’s physical and mental limits you surprise yourself. I am so lucky to have had coaches along my career that pushed me to places I didn’t know I had. I try to teach all my students and athletes this same lesson about themselves
Who do you think we should interview for SPMA next?
1 Lisa Thomaidis
Head Coach University of Saskatchewan Women’s Basketball Team and Canadian Women’s National Team. She is one of the greatest coaches I ever played for.
2 Mike Mackay
Mike Mackay is the Performance Manager, Canadian Women’s National Team and Master Coach Developer for Ontario Basketball. He is one of the best minds in the field.
3 Carly Clarke
Carly is the head coach of the Ryerson Rams and also coaches with the Canadian National Team.
4 Jess Roque
Jess Roque is Carly’s assistant at Ryerson. She played with me on Team Ontario and D1 in Cleveland, Ohio. She has been coaching since finishing her undergrad and coaches with Team Ontario.
5 Christa Eniojukan
Head Coach of Ontario Tech Ridgebacks – first UOIT women’s basketball head coach. Has coached Team Ontario and been involved with Canada basketball.
6 John Thrasher
Having coached for over 40 years, he is the master. He has been my greatest mentor as a coach and a person.
I’ve known Kendel for many years and seeing her grow as a basketball player and a person has been incredible. There has been one constant that I’ve observed during my time knowing Kendel Ross: she is one of the hardest working people I’ve met. Her work ethic and dedication to the game of basketball is inspiring for many sport industry professionals. Many of us are former athletes looking for a way to stay in the game after our playing careers are over. Kendel’s story shows that with hard work you can transition from athlete to administrator with ease.