Jill Ellis '88 returns to W&M for Family Weekend

By Sydney MaHan '16 September 28, 2015

Family Weekend:  World Cup-winning soccer coach Jill Ellis '88 returned to her alma mater during Family Weekend to meet with students, faculty, staff and other fans. Here, Ellis speaks during halftime at Friday night's women's soccer game.  Photo by Stephen Salpukas

Jill Ellis '88, head coach of the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team, returned to William & Mary during Family Weekend where she was honored at both the Tribe's women’s soccer match against Hofstra and the football game against Stony Brook.

In a brief address to the crowd Friday, Ellis noted how not only is she honored and privileged to be a part of the Tribe but how being part of such a community allowed her in many ways to have the success she has had in her career thus far.

"In all sincerity, this place it set me up; it really did," said Ellis. "It gave me a strong foundation, helped me deal with a lot of the pressures that you go through when you are trying to achieve something that great."

Having played forward for the Tribe from 1984-87, Ellis recently led the United States to its first World Cup title since 1999.

Her appearances at the games were just one of the many happenings William & Mary's annual Family Weekend had to offer.

Although rainy, parents, grandparents, siblings and friends were undeterred as they convened for a weekend of fun and fellowship.

The festivities began Friday, with check-in beginning at 8 a.m. for visiting families. Parents had the opportunity to sit in on classes, which allowed them to learn more about the university’s academics, as well as attend lectures highlighting the current research of faculty members in various departments.

Like many parents, Holly Handley of Virginia Beach waited out the rain in the Sadler Center with her daughter Noella Handley '16 before the game against Stony Brook.

"I think Family Weekend is great," said Handley. My daughter Noella is a senior this year, and we've come every year."

Having taken her daughter to buy spirit wear earlier in the day, Handley noted that this particular Family Weekend was more nostalgic for her and her husband.

"Since it is Noella's last year, every visit is special now, knowing that we're winding down," said Handley.

While some students and their families participated in the activities offered by the university, others chose to spend time with their families off campus. One such student was Anissa Chams-Eddine '18.

"I think Family Weekend is a cool time where you get to show your family what your life is like at school," said Chams-Eddine. "Midterms are about to start up, and it's cool to see mom and dad before everything begins to go a little crazy. I'm very excited for us to go out to dinner, and I'm happy my mom is down here."

Other highlights from the weekend included multiple concerts put on by William & Mary's a capella groups, greenhouse tours, a street fair, swing dancing and the Tribe football game, which W&M won 21-0.

Katianna Tron '16 contributed to this story.