Katie Ellis
Tenacity Bay Area

Katie Ellis started coaching for Tenacity last year, when she moved from New York to San Francisco.  She left her job in finance for the post bac premed program at Mills College in Oakland, pursuing her long-held dream of becoming a doctor.  So how does she balance coaching with her schoolwork?  Well, Katie’s no stranger to balance.  She played both field hockey and lacrosse at Williams College and prior to that, she graduated from the Hotchkiss School in Connecticut, another environment that demands and instills excellence from its student-athletes.  As Theresa says, “Katie embodies the kind of student athlete mentality we want all of our Tenacity girls to have.  Attending a world class school like Williams and competing in the NESCAC in lacrosse is a major achievement, and she continues to coach and work as she prepares for medical school.  We appreciate the impact she has made on our girls, including what we are looking for most from our coaches- a consistently positive presence in young girls’ lives.”

Katie says that coaching on the weekends is a nice release from the academic pressures she’s facing.  “The girls have such great attitudes and work so hard,” she says, “that it makes coaching them really enjoyable and rewarding.”  I find the same to be true.  The energy of our players is contagious!

When I reached out to you for this interview, you were studying for the MCAT and finishing up school.  Have you always wanted to be a doctor?  What’s next?

I thought I might want to be a doctor when I was younger but wasn’t completely sure and was further dissuaded when I decided to play two sports at Williams.  I thought I’d given up on a career as a physician until I found out about post bac premed programs and knew it was something I wanted to pursue.  I’ll spend this year working full time as a Hepatitis C Linkage Coordinator in the Emergency Department of Highland Hospital while applying to Medical School, which I’m really looking forward to!


Do you see your experience as an athlete playing into your career?  How do you think those very different pursuits will complement each other?  Or maybe they’re not that different?

My experiences as an athlete have helped prepare me for all of my pursuits post college.  I worked in finance for two years after Williams and the work ethic and teamwork I learned as an athlete helped me succeed in that setting.  Those lessons have become even more important in my transition to medicine.  It’s been a rigorous journey that requires enormous dedication and commitment.


At Tenacity we always talk about mental toughness.  We do mental toughness exercises and visualizations at the beginning of practice, and focus on working effectively under pressure.  You were a psychology major at Williams, and I’m wondering if what you learned in psych helped you at all on the field.

The biggest lesson I would point out is how much attitude can affect outcome.  A positive attitude goes a long way and you can often predict outcomes based on attitudes before a task or challenge or game even starts.  If you go into a game defeated or not believing in your ability to win, there is a good chance you will negatively impact your performance. I always try and go into every game focusing on what I can control, my own attitude and performance, and not worry about the other team’s record or reputation.


Kind of in that same vein, did you come up against any hurdles as a player, mental or physical, and how did you get over them?

I struggled with injuries throughout my athletic career and it was always just as important to come back mentally as it was physically. I had to stay mentally sharp and focused throughout my recovery time so that when I was ready to play physically, I could pick up right where I left off and be just as effective and successful on the field.


You grew up in a lax family, with an older brother who played at Princeton and a sister who played at Dartmouth.  What was that like?  Would you guys practice together?  Did it create a competitive environment at home?

My siblings are both amazing athletes and knew they wanted to play DI lacrosse from a young age.  It was more important for me to play two sports in college and have a balanced schedule, so we were never competitive in that sense.  We all have very different interests and have always been incredibly supportive of each other on and off the field.  My sister and I overlapped at Hotchkiss for one year and it was so fun being a senior on the varsity team her freshman year and being able help her through that first season.


People often say that playing two sports is more manageable at the DIII level.  Do you think that’s the case?  How did you balance field hockey and lacrosse at such an academically rigorous school?

Yes, I would agree it was probably as manageable to play two sports at a DIII level as it would have been to play one sport at a DI level.  Being in-season all year was tough in some ways, but it taught me to be incredibly efficient with my time, and having a structured schedule probably made me a better student.


Favorite lacrosse memory?  

Winning the NESCAC tournament my sophomore year for the first and only time in Williams history!


Best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

At every draw imagine the score is 0-0, no matter if you’re up by 10.

Written By: Courtney Bird
May 18th, 2016