Play­ing both

Ellsworth to play soc­cer, bas­ket­ball for Pan­thers

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - BY JA­SON MAL­LOY THE GUARDIAN

Jenna Mae Ellsworth will be a UPEI soc­cer and bas­ket­ball player in 2016-17.

Jenna Mae Ellsworth will be play­ing on the soc­cer pitch and bas­ket­ball court at UPEI next sea­son.

The 17-year-old Char­lot­te­town na­tive com­mit­ted to the Pan­thers this week af­ter speak­ing with mul­ti­ple univer­si­ties. The Colonel Gray Colonels star de­cided if she was leav­ing home she wouldn’t be able to play both sports.

“I think I al­ways knew in the back of my mind that it was def­i­nitely the place for me,” Ellsworth said. “When they of­fered (the chance to play both sports) here, I knew it was a great op­por­tu­nity. It’s not some­thing that hap­pens ev­ery­day, where you get to play two sports at a var­sity level.”

There is also a strong fam­ily con­nec­tion to the Pan­thers bas­ket­ball squad.

Ellsworth’s mother, Tracy, played for the Pan­thers in the 1980s and coached them from 1993-94 to 2003-04.

“It’s sur­real. It’s awe­some to know I get to play as a Pan­ther, the same as my mom,” Ellsworth said at the univer­sity.

A point guard on the court and a de­fender on the pitch, both Pan­thers coaches were de­lighted to have her in the fold start­ing in Septem­ber.

“To get an ath­lete that is as tal­ented as she is to com­mit to UPEI is fan­tas­tic,” said soc­cer coach Graeme McDon­ald. “She brings that el­e­ment of fo­cus and a great com­pet­i­tive edge. She has a great de­sire to want to win, and it’s in­fec­tious.”

The soc­cer team will lose nine play­ers this sea­son af­ter go­ing 3-9-1 and miss­ing the play­offs. The list in­cludes its start­ing keeper, three cen­tre mid­field­ers and two strik­ers.

McDon­ald said he has other play­ers al­ready com­mit­ted, which he ex­pects to be able to an­nounce in the near fu­ture.

“Los­ing nine play­ers is a lot. I’m out there try­ing to re­cruit the best play­ers I pos­si­bly can get,” he said. “This is the time now to bring in the next gen­er­a­tion of play­ers that are go­ing to come in and put us back on the map, where this univer­sity de­serves to be.”

Pan­thers bas­ket­ball coach Greg Gould reached out to Ellsworth af­ter be­ing hired in June.

“The goal was to try and re­cruit a good player, not just be­cause she’s lo­cal, but be­cause she’s one of the top play­ers in the Mar­itimes grad­u­at­ing this year,” he said.

At five-foot-10, Ellsworth has the size to look over op­pos­ing point guards as she runs her team’s of­fence.

“Jenna Mae has all kinds of qual­i­ties that I think you look for,” Gould said. “She’s a great passer . . . she’s fun­da­men­tally sound and she’s got a nice lit­tle pull up.”

It also helps fill a glar­ing need for next year, as the Pan­thers will lose its work­horse point guard Katie Donahoe to grad­u­a­tion af­ter five years of be­ing a steady in­flu­ence on the squad.

Ellsworth is well known to many of her fu­ture UPEI team­mates in both sports. In fact, the Pan­thers bas­ket­ball team will have four-fifths of the pow­er­packed Colonels start­ing lineup from 2014-15.

Gould said three of this year’s Pan­thers are play­ing their fi­nal year of el­i­gi­bil­ity while a fourth is ex­pected to grad­u­ate and may not re­turn.

“We’re pretty thrilled to be able to sign Jenna Mae,” he said. “Hope­fully that may help us to at­tract some other top-notch re­cruits from the Mar­itimes as well.”

“The goal was to try and re­cruit a good player, not just be­cause she’s lo­cal, but be­cause she’s one of the top play­ers in the Mar­itimes grad­u­at­ing this year.” UPEI women’s bas­ket­ball coach Greg Gould

JA­SON MAL­LOY/THE GUARDIAN

Jenna Mae Ellsworth has com­mit­ted to play soc­cer and bas­ket­ball for the UPEI Pan­thers next sea­son.

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