Tina Ellertson’s days as a professional soccer player are over. Her focus now will be on sharing her passion for the sport.
The former U.S. Women’s National Team defender from Vancouver has turned down a contract offer from the Portland Thorns, choosing instead to focus on her coaching career.
“Coaching has really been my passion for a while,” Ellertson said. She coaches several teams for FC Salmon Creek, and in the fall plans to coach high school soccer for the first time. She said she didn’t want to put her coaching career on hold for another year or two.
“Who knows where coaching might take me?” she said.
Next week, it will take her to Guatemala as an envoy for women’s soccer. Representing U.S. Soccer, Ellertson will speak to the Guatemalan women’s national team and run clinics for youth soccer clubs during her week-long trip.
Ellertson, 31, said she had a “great” contract offer from new Thorns coach Paul Riley, and that “it would have been amazing to get to play for him. I have so much respect for him as a coach and the way he develops players.”
But Riley intends to have the Thorns train more than once a day, a commitment that would have challenged Ellertson as a mother and as someone who hopes to someday coach college soccer.
“I’m so committed to my Salmon Creek club and to my family,” Ellertson said. “I didn’t feel it would be fair to them for me to be away that much.”
Ellertson joined the Thorns for the final month of the 2013 season and played the final 30 minutes of their championship game victory at Western New York.
A 2000 graduate of Hudson’s Bay High School, Ellertson was a member of the women’s national team from 2005-2008, appearing in three matches during the 2007 Women’s World Cup. She played in Women’s Professional Soccer for the Atlanta Beat, St. Louis Athletica and Florida-based magicJack. She was named the 2003 and 2004 Pac-10 Player of the Year at the University of Washington.
Her trip to Guatemala is the result of a partnership between the U.S. embassy in Guatemala City and Champions in Action, an organization that connects disadvantaged youth to mentors through soccer.
Ellertson said she is looking forward to meeting and encouraging members of the Guatemalan women’s national team, and to providing an example of how sports can provide tremendous opportunities for young women as well as men.
“It’s just a great opportunity to be a face for the United States national team and to be an advocate for women’s sports,” Ellertson said.