Soccer coach Jill Ellis discusses successes, failures as second speaker in Panther Speaker Series


Photo credit: Grace Doyle

Coach Jill Ellis, the former U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team head coach, spoke in the Panther Speaker Series hosted by the Athletics Leadership Council. Ellis talked about her views of success and ways in which she frames failures.

By Grace Doyle and Nyah Fernandez

Coach Jill Ellis, the former U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team head coach and two-time FIFA Coach of the Year, was the second guest to speak in the Panther Speaker Series hosted by the Athletics Leadership Council. The webinar, which was held on Oct. 21 and entitled “Sport and Beyond,” took place on the heels of the release ofThe Playbook,” a new Netflix docuseries that explores Ellis’ path to becoming the second coach in history to win two consecutive FIFA Women’s World Cups.

Throughout the 40-minute webinar, Ellis discussed her successes along with the holistic perspective she has on the “lows” and “highs” of achievement. 

“It’s not just the highs that are important, the highs and the lows are really what makes the journey special and what makes the journey valuable,” Ellis said. “The moments that stung, the moments that cut deep…they are as valuable to me as the moments of elation and of being on top of the podium.” 

Senior and soccer player Audrey Irvine is one of the representatives from the Athletics Leadership Council. As a competitive soccer player for ten years, Irvine is a U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team fan. 

“Not all stories are full of successes but the little failures and mistakes that happen along the way only lead to having a huge feeling of success at the end of a career,” Irvine said. “Thinking about the career [Ellis] had, it’s kind of unbelievable and it was great that she didn’t just share the highlights of her career but also what it took to get there.” 

Junior softball player Faith Soriano is also on the Athletics Leadership Council. Soriano asked questions during the Q&A portion of the webinar and felt she took away “inspirational” lessons from Ellis’ presentation.

“[Ellis’] presentation was really interesting. She talked about, overall as a player, how to overcome adversities and things like that as well as internal and external pressures and how to deal with those,” Soriano said. “I feel like it was really easy for me to relate.”

Ellis emphasized the “evolving” nature of success and the need for “persistence.” Using different quotes and examples, Ellis’ overall message was to highlight the “mindset” of success and that “success and failure have the same starting point.”

“When you navigate challenges, and hardships, and failure, which are very much apart of my journey, it’s about making sure that you take that and you manage it before it manages you. You take a positive approach,” Ellis said. “Adversity is not something to hide from, it’s actually something to embrace and go off of.”