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Jill Ellis feels ‘more pressure’ with San Diego Wave than USWNT

(Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

Jill Ellis led the USWNT to back-to-back World Cups in 2015 and 2019, but she said she is glad to have stepped out of her comfort zone and into the front office as the San Diego Wave president.

“I could have stayed in the safety of the sideline, because it’s familiar to me, it’s comfortable for me, but I was ready,” Ellis told ESPN. “Stepping away from coaching made me realize I want to pursue this bigger purpose. You just suddenly realize it’s bigger than just the 120 x 72 [field].”

Because her purview as president extends so far beyond the field, her days have gotten much busier than when she coached the USWNT. For example, she notes that rather than the typical five to 10 emails per day she got as a coach, she now gets about 50 per day.

“I’ve said this and people kind of do a double take: I slept like a baby as a national team coach,” Ellis said. But with her expanded responsibilities as a club president, she said, “I’ve actually felt more pressure in this role than any job I’ve ever had.”

When Ellis joined the expansion side in San Diego last year, she had a lot to do. The team debuted in March with the Challenge Cup but, until late 2021, did not have a name or a crest.

“We were on a very tight timeline to launch this team. It was shorter probably than any pro franchise has ever gotten off the ground. We literally announced our name, our colors, and then five months later, we got a team on the pitch,” she said.

That turnaround has paid off so far, with the team off to a 3-1 start to the regular season. While the Wave dropped their first regular season game Wednesday at Louisville, they’ve gotten some quality wins – including a performance by Alex Morgan in early May that etched her name into the record books once again.

Ellis is happy to hit the ground running. As she said after the home opener, a 4-0 win against Gotham FC, “We want to come in and we want to have an impact.”