Lee Ellis

Committed Leadership

Ten months removed from the heartbreak and dejection following the Spartans' 2004 Canada West semifinal loss, co-captain and fifth-year defender Lee Ellis is focused intently on the final three months of his university athletic career and the one objective that looms like a carrot in front of a racehorse: the CIS national championship. "I think we all agree that our goal is to go all the way," Ellis said. "And if we don’t reach that then we’ll be pretty upset."

Obviously to go out on top is the dream of every athlete, but it would be that much sweeter for the Spartan men's soccer class of 2006 given the expectations they have shouldered, and fostered, from the beginning; expectations that have intensified over the last two years. The 2004 squad was considered the most talented yet, going 9-0-1 in the preseason, then 9-1-2 in the regular season to finish in first place in the conference, only to be shocked in the playoffs.

This year is different. How different? "The main difference this year is the maturity [on the team]," Ellis commented. "There's also more depth. The players brought in are able to start and make an impact, and at the same time we have a core of 12 guys (seven of whom are fifth-year players) who know how to play the game. And the talent on this team is far greater than any team I've ever been on."

An added bonus for this year's squad is that a core group of the Spartans spent the summer playing on the Fraser Valley Action in the Pacific Coast Soccer League, a North American Division III League (as recognized by the Canadian Soccer Association and the United States Soccer Federation). Besides playing for the Action, Ellis participated in an Athletes in Action tour to Thailand and Sri Lanka. The competition was alright, he said but the highlight was when he and a few other guys who were injured, and therefore unable to play in the game, went to do a university soccer clinic. They hadn't been scheduled to do it but the opportunity arose, and the athletes were able to share the hope and love of Jesus Christ. Nine people made commitments to Christ, and Ellis and the others from AIA were also able to start a campus ministry for them. "It was something we weren’t even supposed to do, but because the guys were injured and couldn't play, we went and that's what happened," Ellis said. "That was definitely the highlight of the trip right there."

As he suits up for his final season in Spartan blue and gold, Ellis is excited that "this could be the year I end on a high note. And if that happens it's going to be amazing."

Commented Coach Alan Alderson on the 2004 Canada West Second Team All-Star: "Lee is such a wonderful player to watch play...he is so smooth on the ball, he is such a great defender, and he is fiercely committed to seeing his teammates and this program succeed.  His leadership on and off the field has played a significant part in helping us become one of the very best programs in the country."

Last Updated: 2008-01-10
Author: Scott Stewart

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