Jill Ellis’ legacy will live on and on. (Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports)
CHICAGO – U.S. Soccer Tuesday announced the details of the Jill Ellis Scholarship Fund and the launch of the SheChampions Mentorship program, which will benefit, empower and advance female coaches through financial support, mentorship and community building.
The Jill Ellis Scholarship Fund and SheChampions Mentorship Program will combine to assist U.S. Soccer in achieving its goal of doubling the number of elite professional female coaches by 2024.
During last fall, as the USA was coming off its triumph at the 2019 Women’s World Cup and Ellis was nearing the end of her almost six-year tenure as head coach of the U.S. women’s national team, the U.S. Soccer board of directors voted to establish the Jill Ellis Scholarship Fund. That endowment will support, honor and celebrate her legacy.
In line with Ellis’ demonstrated passion for mentorship, the U.S. Soccer coaching education department has developed a mentorship program for professional female coaches that complements the scholarship and follows the same themes as the SheBelieves movement.
Through the SheChampions Mentorship Program, U.S. Soccer will facilitate a mentorship opportunity for each female Pro and “A” license candidate. The mentor and the mentee will share monthly calls, be available for questions and guidance and, if possible, will have an in-person event around the annual SheBelieves Cup.
“Every year we ask, ‘why do we not have more females in coaching? Why are the percentages so disproportionate?” Ellis said in a statement. “We want to stop asking and commit to change the ratio and significantly grow those numbers. With the amazing group of people we have involved in both these programs, I know we will make a significant positive impact on a lot of young female coaches.”
The Ellis Scholarship will provide 50 percent of the tuition (which includes in-person meetings, accommodations and meals, instructor time and materials) for female Pro, “A” and “B” License candidates. It is projected that 15 women will pursue their “A” and 30 will pursue their “B” in the first year. In the second year, the mentorship program also will be extended to “B” License candidates.
The mentors, who will provide hands-on support to accompany the financial aid, will feature some of the most accomplished coaches of women’s soccer in the United States. The list includes Ellis, Under-20 USWNT head coach Laura Harvey, long-time college coach Leslie Gallimore, Lauren Gregg, an assistant coach on the 1991 and 1999 Women’s World Cup champions, and University of North Carolina head coach Anson Dorrance, who directed the U.S. to the first WWC crown in 1991.