Ellis tabbed to guide inaugural ASU women’s program
As a result, Ellis headed to the Midwest where she played four years at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio – two of them as an assistant captain for the RedHawks.
But if there had been a closer program, including one in her home state of Arizona, there is no doubt Ellis would have jumped at the chance to play for it.
“I believe I would have 100 percent gone to Arizona State if that opportunity had been there,” Ellis said. “I was so lucky that I got to go out of state and play and not a lot of girls get to do that, especially in the West.”
Ellis is now the one spearheading the movement to bring women’s hockey to the desert, and the western region of the country for that matter.
Arizona State recently announced the formation of a women’s club hockey team, one that Ellis will be in control of.
The Sun Devils will start their inaugural season in the fall of 2016 and will play roughly 20 games at Oceanside Ice Arena in Tempe. ASU will be a member of the American Collegiate Hockey Association.
The ASU women are entering Arizona’s hockey landscape at seemingly the perfect time, as the Sun Devil men’s program will join the NCAA ranks as a Division I team this fall.
Ellis, meanwhile, has already landed her first player. Kathleen McGinley, an Arizona native, has played Division III hockey at the University of Massachusetts-Boston and recently transferred to ASU.
“I’ve had so many girls contact me because they are so excited,” Ellis said. “Right now, it’s kind of a waiting game until they get accepted (into school). It’s definitely good to see all the interest and I think my main recruiting class is on the West Coast.”
Ellis also has experience with newer programs. She won a national title with the RedHawks in 2014 in just the program’s third season.
“It was pretty unbelievable to accomplish that,” Ellis said.
On the Arizona State bench, she’ll be joined by assistant coaches Matt Shott and Kaley Gibson, who will work with the team’s goaltenders.
“Matt knows a lot about Arizona hockey and spreading the word about us,” Ellis said. “And he’s been around hockey his whole life, so he knows the game. Kaley knows a lot on the girls hockey side. She’s a great goaltender and I think she can really help us out.”
Shott, the manager of amateur hockey development with Arizona Coyotes, said he has full confidence in Ellis to lead the program.
“She’s played in college and she knows how an organization is run,” Shott said. “At the end of the day, I think she’s going to do well.”
Ellis founded the team in January and had multiple meetings with ASU officials over the year including one in May in which she submitted budgets and a firm plan. She said following in the success of the ASU men will only be a boon for the program.
“I really think that ASU has so many opportunities available to them,” Ellis said. “There are a lot of talented girls and I think we can move up in the ranks pretty quickly.”
Although the Sun Devils’ opener is a year way, Ellis isn’t shy about hiding her excitement about getting things going, but she and the coaches also realize their expectations need to be realistic in Year One.
“Honestly, I just want to have a competitive team,” Shott said. “If we have a good group of ladies who try hard every time, that’s all you can really ask for.”
— Eric Smith