“There’s no place like home” this sentiment seems to be the staple for senior women’s soccer player, Stephany Ellison. Leaving D1 soccer in Eastern Kentucky University three years ago, Ellison returned to her New York roots to start over. While some may consider the move a downgrade, Ellison has no regrets transferring to Houghton College and joining the D3 women’s soccer ranks.
The small town girl from Whitesville, New York used what she gleaned from EKU, her past three years as a Highlander, and her recent summer experience in the W-League to help her and her team thrive. The forward who recently was named Empire 8 Offensive Player of the Week and scored her 18th goal this season, continues to stay grounded and devoted to her team.
“I loved my time at EKU but Houghton has been the best fit for me out of the two,” said Ellison. “I have made amazing friends, have been to two national tournaments, and got the opportunity to play in the W-League. None of that would be possible, I don’t think, had I not transferred.”
Going from D1 to D3 is a bit of a change but the Empire 8 has been a very good and competitive conference. There are always quality teams each year and it has been awesome to see how we have competed with them for the last 3 years.
Viewing D3 soccer as a blessing Ellison stated, “Going from D1 to D3 is a bit of a change but the Empire 8 has been a very good and competitive conference. There are always quality teams each year and it has been awesome to see how we have competed with them for the last 3 years.”
Women’s head coach, David Lewis who originally recruited Ellison, commented on her innate abilityto score, a trait that has helped the Highlanders win.
“Stephany is a natural goal scorer,” said Lewis. “She combines speed with an eye for the goal and strikes the ball with authority.”
When asked what he thought lead to Ellison’s recent achievements of being named Empire 8 Offensive Player of the Week and gaining her 18th goal, Lewis noted her solid performance against two quality opponents, being highly defended, and her ability to find ways to set herself up for scoring opportunities.
Looking back, Coach Lewis is grateful for Ellison’s transfer because she has been a key part of the team over the past three years but is more impressed for the progress she has had as a person.
Upon returning to her hometown, Ellison has developed a close knit camaraderie with her coach and team that has made her the athlete she is today.
“He pushes me to be the best that I can be and he does it in a way that makes me want to work even harder. Same goes for my teammates, it is rare that you find a girls team where everyone is pretty close with each other, but that is what we have here,” confessed Ellison. “I have been able to open up to these girls which only makes our play much stronger. We trust each other with everything that we carry that out onto the field.”
In addition to her coach and teammates, Ellison considers her faith in Jesus Christ to be the bigger part of who she is as an athlete.
“Each day after practice we do devotionals. Before each game we pray with another player out on the field, not only for ourselves but for the other team and the refs,” shared Ellison. “It has definitely made me a better player because we are playing to glorify God and play for an audience of one, and because of this you are always going to give 110 percent.”
With aspirations of winning at the NCAA Tournament, continue playing W-League, and then possibly NWSL, Ellison would equally like to become an elementary school teacher in the future.
Scoring 13 goals in 15 games this season with 8.87 shots per game, 1.27 assists per game, and 2.80 points per game, it is safe to say that that future looks bright.