Dual threat: Ellsworth to play soccer, basketball for Panthers

Jason Malloy jmalloy@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on January 16, 2016

Jenna Mae Ellsworth will be playing on the soccer pitch and basketball court at UPEI next season.

The 17-year-old Charlottetown native committed to the Panthers this week after speaking with multiple universities. The Colonel Gray Colonels star decided if she was leaving home she wouldn't be able to play both sports.

"I think I always knew in the back of my mind that it was definitely the place for me," Ellsworth said. "When they offered (the chance to play both sports) here, I knew it was a great opportunity. It's not something that happens everyday, where you get to play two sports at a varsity level."

There is also a strong family connection to the Panthers basketball squad. Ellsworth's mother, Tracy, played for the Panthers in the 1980s and coached them from 1993-94 to 2003-04.

"It's surreal. It's awesome to know I get to play as a Panther, the same as my mom," Ellsworth said at the university.

A point guard on the court and a defender on the pitch, both Panthers coaches were delighted to have her in the fold starting in September.

"To get an athlete that is as talented as she is to commit to UPEI is fantastic," said soccer coach Graeme McDonald. "She brings that element of focus and a great competitive edge. She has a great desire to want to win, and it's infectious."

The soccer team will lose nine players this season after going 3-9-1 and missing the playoffs. The list includes its starting keeper, three centre midfielders and two strikers.

McDonald said he has other players already committed, which he expects to be able to announce in the near future.

"Losing nine players is a lot. I'm out there trying to recruit the best players I possibly can get," he said. "This is the time now to bring in the next generation of players that are going to come in and put us back on the map, where this university deserves to be."

Panthers basketball coach Greg Gould reached out to Ellsworth after being hired in June.

"The goal was to try and recruit a good player, not just because she's local, but because she's one of the top players in the Maritimes graduating this year," he said.

At five-foot-10, Ellsworth has the size to look over opposing point guards as she runs her team's offence.

"Jenna Mae has all kinds of qualities that I think you look for," Gould said. "She's a great passer . . . she's fundamentally sound and she's got a nice little pull up."

It also helps fill a glaring need for next year, as the Panthers will lose its workhorse point guard Katie Donahoe to graduation after five years of being a steady influence on the squad.

Ellsworth is well known to many of her future UPEI teammates in both sports. In fact, the Panthers basketball team will have four-fifths of the power-packed Colonels starting lineup from 2014-15.

Gould said three of this year's Panthers are playing their final year of eligibility while a fourth is expected to graduate and may not return.

"We're pretty thrilled to be able to sign Jenna Mae," he said. "Hopefully that may help us to attract some other top-notch recruits from the Maritimes as well."


Dual-sport Panthers

UPEI has had a number of Panthers who have played multiple sports. Here is a list of some of them. Know others, leave a comment.

Cole MacMillan, soccer and hockey.

Tessa Roach, soccer and hockey.

Mikaela Ellis, field hockey and hockey.

Sarah MacAulay, field hockey and hockey.

Tracy MacEachern, field hockey and basketball.*

Shane MacEachern, hockey and soccer.

Libby O’Brien, field hockey and basketball.

Dick Tingley, hockey, basketball and football.

Dr. William (Bill) Stanish, football, hockey and basketball.

Dr. Frank Garrity, basketball and football.

Dr. Brian Chandler, hockey, rugby and basketball.

Gil Collins, football and basketball.

A.J. MacAdam, rugby, basketball, hockey and track and field.

Dr. Vincent Grant, rugby, hockey and track and field.

Jack Reardon, basketball and rugby.

Mac Beck, rugby, basketball, hockey and track and field.

Scott Neil, soccer and hockey.

Elizabeth MacPhail, soccer and basketbal.


* MacEachern is Ellsworth's mother.