Tom Ellis is the head coach of the US Revolution, the national Australian Rules Football team, he also coaches the Denver Bulldogs AFL side and high school pole vault as well as being a dedicated father and husband.
Tom, along with the Denver Bulldogs USAFL side, recently took part in an Athletic Edge program with Take Point. We caught up with Tom afterwards for a quick interview.
Take Point: Hi Tom, firstly tell us a little about yourself.
Tom: Tom Ellis, 47 years old. Father to son 19 in college and daughter 17 a senior in high school. I am a sales consultant for a printing company in Denver and have been in that industry for 20 years. I coach high school pole vault in Parker CO for Chaparral High School Track Team. I also coach the Denver Bulldogs and the USA National Australian Rules football team, the American Revolution. I was born in Colorado and have lived between here and Texas for most of my life. I love sports and the outdoors.
Take Point: Have you always been involved in sport?
Tom: Yes, I grew up in a large family and we loved sports. My first memories are watching the Dallas Cowboys and then going out in the yard pretending I was either Roger Staubach or Tony Dorsett. I have played every sport I could.
Take Point: How did you wind up coaching Australian Rules Football?
Tom: I started playing Australian Football when I was 30. Once I played I fell in love with it. As I progressed playing with the Bulldogs I was selected to play for the USA National team and I participated in 2 International Cups in Melbourne Australia, including Vice Captain on the 2002 team. From there I learned from the best and that has put me in good stead for coaching.
Take Point: Tell us about your current coaching roles?
Tom: I coach pole vault for the Chaparral High School track team. I have the number one vaulter in the state going into this year. I also coach the Men’s team for the Denver Bulldogs Australian Football Club. We are currently 4th in the nation. I am back as the Bulldogs coach after a 2 year break. I am currently the only American coach to win a National Championship and I have 3 Championships to my credit. I also coach the USA National Team, the American Revolution; the first American to do so. We recently beat Canada in the 49th Parallel Cup and are ramping up to the next International Cup to be held in Melbourne Australia 2017.
Take Point: You recently had the Denver Bulldogs take part in an Athletic Edge program, can you tell us a little about that?
Tom: The Bulldogs wanted to have a team building event to build club morale leading up to nationals. We took 20 players up to the mountains for a weekend event. This was a great way of pulling players out of the normal mix of practice to work on team building. The guys worked extremely hard and took a lot out of the weekend.
Take Point: What were the main take away points from the program for you?
Tom: The main points I took from the event were the importance of accountability amongst the entire group as well as a focussed sense of mission. It really shows how players are committed to each other in a way you would not see in a practice run.
Take Point: Did you find the event to be effective for your team?
Tom: I did. Since returning to the practice field we have been using techniques and approaches that we covered during the Athletic Edge program. It obviously resonated with the player as we have noticed a positive attitude shift and newfound dedication and commitment to the team.
Take Point: What was the hardest part of the program?
Tom: I think just the physical aspect was the toughest. Staying focussed when tired or under pressure was challenging for myself and the team.
Take Point: Would you recommend this program to other sporting teams?
Tom: Not to our opposition... But joking aside, yes I would. It is a great way to work as a team outside of the normal structure and to get everyone pulling in the one direction whilst working out any issues as a group looking for the best solutions.
Take Point: If you were to do the program again how would you prepare?
Tom: I think the only thing I would do differently is arrive earlier and also have a good plan for after the event - food, beer, bonding and relaxation after all the hard work.
Take Point: What recommendations would you make to other coaches considering a similar event?
Tom: Do it! I would really stress that everyone attends - coaches, trainers, and anyone connected to the team. No matter what role you play with the team we are all part of a single entity.
Take Point: Any final words?
Tom: I think that it was a very well managed event and the professionalism of Take Point showed through. At no point did we feel lost or in over our head. Everything was done with purpose and it was a great event overall, one that we will be doing annually!
Athletic Edge is a program designed to bridge the gap between talent and success in professional and semi-profession sporting teams. Sporting competition is much like combat in that two teams face off, both highly trained and both equally equipped with weapons. The difference between any two sides on an even playing field comes down to the calibre of leadership and the unity of the team. TAKE POINT delivers this advantage.