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USWNT May 13, 2016

USWNT’s Jill Ellis to give William & Mary graduation speech

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Jill Ellis is going back to school.

The U.S. Women’s National Team coach will return to her alma mater William & Mary on Saturday to deliver the 2016 commencement address, and receive an honorary degree to boot. W&M Chancellor and former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates (class of 1965) will provide the event’s welcoming remarks.

+READ: Jill Ellis’ journey reaches storybook World Cup title run – but more work awaits

“Jill Ellis is a coach of compelling ability who leads on the world stage,” said W&M president Taylor Reveley in a statement released earlier this year. “She is also a dedicated alumna of her alma mater. William & Mary is enormously proud of her.”

A member of the W&M undergraduate class of 1988, Ellis was born and spent her childhood in England before her family emigrated to Northern Virginia when she was 15.

At William & Mary, she studied English and played forward for the Tribe from 1984 to 1987, leading the Tribe to the NCAA tournament all four of those seasons, including a trip to the Elite Eight in 1987. Ellis finished her NCAA career with 32 goals and 19 assists and earned Third Team All-America honors during her senior season; she ranks ninth on the program’s career points list with 83.

Jill Ellis W&M mag coverWhile pursuing a master’s degree in technical communications, Ellis assisted the North Carolina State women’s soccer team as they won the ACC Championship.

She worked for two years as a technical writer for Northern Telecom in North Carolina before accepting an assistant coaching position at the University of Maryland. That stint laid the foundation for an impressive coaching career that took her to the University of Virginia, Illinois and UCLA before she transitioned into a series of roles in the U.S. Soccer Federation’s system.

Stepping into the vacuum left by Tom Sermanni‘s sudden firing in 2014, Ellis took the USWNT on a long, slow climb to full form that culminated in a title run at the Women’s World Cup in Canada last summer, the program’s third world championship. She will lead the WNT in their gold-medal defense at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro this August.

The second-oldest university in the United States (behind only Harvard), the College of William & Mary is a selective public research university of some 8,000 students located in Williamsburg, Virginia. Ellis was inducted into the William & Mary Athletic Hall of Fame in 2002, and was named a “Tribe Champion for Life” when she visited campus for Family Weekend last fall.

Saturday’s commencement ceremony is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. ET and will be streamed live on the university’s website.

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