Kootenay Wildcats coach Katie Yuris is one of three nominees for BC Sports’ Female Coach of the Year Award.
Last year, Yuris received BC Hockey’s Coach of the Year honour for her dedication to the Pee Wee Wildcats, so when she received a phone call from the same organization, she thought it was a reprimand for not returning the CoY trophy.
“It was funny because when I answered, I started to apologize and they answered with, ‘We are actually calling you with good news that we’ve nominated you, through BC hockey, for Female Coach of the year through Sports BC.’
“I was in shock and couldn’t believe what an honour that was to be recognized by the entire association and be a finalist alongside of highschool, university, college coaches. It was a huge surprise coming from Trail BC.”
The 54th annual Sport BC Awards recognize the top athletes and coaches in the province. This year’s nominees include athletes, coaches, and volunteers from 20 sports and 24 different communities.
“The Sport BC Awards is a true celebration of sport in our province, these finalists represent an exceptional 2019 in BC sport,” said Sport BC’s President and CEO, Rob Newman in a release. “We congratulate all of our finalists and the organizations they represent.”
The 25-year-old Yuris played all her minor hockey in the West Kootenay for the Wildcats and began coaching at age 15. She played under knowledgeable local coaches throughout her hockey career, and began her foray into coaching under D’Arcy Caron, a key mentor.
Katie and her sister Mckayla played Midget AAA with the Wildcats program, and then went to college where Katie played for SAIT of the ACAC.
Upon their return to Trail, the sisters were determined to build up and restore competitive female hockey in Trail. Along with dad Terry, the trio started at the Pee Wee level and the sisters are now also co-coaching the female West Kootenay Bantam AA Wildcats.
Last year, the West Kootenay Pee Wee Wildcats made incredible strides on and off the ice, and hosted the Pee Wee girls provincial championships. This year, their progress has been even more impressive, with the Bantam Wildcats winning the Haley Wickenheiser Female World Hockey Festival Bantam AA title.
And although winning is satisfying, growing her players into confident and talented young women is coach Katie’s main goal.
“When I started I could’ve never dreamed the program would start to become so successful in aspects of providing a program for females to be noticed and treated like athletes, not just a girl on a boy’s team,” said Katie.
If coaching two teams is not enough, Katie has her own career and just welcomed a baby girl to the fold on Dec. 19.
“My daughter came 20 days early Dec. 19th, 2019 (safe to say her hockey number will be 19). I’ve had to step back a little bit, but we have not only grown our group of players, our coaching staff consists of such an amazingly dedicated group of people. I feel confident when I am not there that our values and views are being progressed every ice time.
“That being said, this award is another huge accomplishment for everyone whose been involved and supportive of the program, our coaching staff, on-ice helpers, trainers, managers, rink staff, parents and the athletes.”
Joining Katie as Female Coach of the Year nominees are Christine Wong, a golf coach from Vancouver, and Lynn Kanuka, an athletics coach from Surrey.
“Coming from such a small town this nomination is very special, to even be noticed in the realm of these other coaches,” added Katie. “Just to be in a room with people like that is truly an honour.”
The awards ceremony goes on Mar. 12 at the Vancouver Convention Centre.