Aug 15, 2013
The 2009 Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches Association's Division I Assistant Coach of the Year, Ellis is responsible for Vanderbilt's defensive philosophy and has been a key component of the Commodores' success over the past decade and a half. With Swezey and Ellis working side-by-side, the Commodores have made six trips to the NCAA Tournament--including a 2004 berth in the national semifinals.
"I am so happy that I can promote Susan to Associate Head Coach," Swezey said. "She is truly deserving of this promotion. Sue has committed 14 years of her life to Vanderbilt Lacrosse. So much of what she does goes unseen, but her contribution is enormous. I am not sure what we would do without her. I'm excited for Sue to stay on board with me as we continue to rebuild our program into one of the top contenders in the country."
"This promotion is really considerate of Cathy and the administration," Ellis said. "The recognition is nice, but right now our main focus as a team is moving forward, especially with [newly hired assistant coach] Julie Gardner on board. We are really looking forward to a successful 2014 season, welcoming our freshmen and getting everyone back together."
Swezey and Ellis played lacrosse together at Trenton State (now called the The College of New Jersey) during the 1994 season. That year, Ellis was named the IWLCA Defensive Player of the Year while Swezey earned the Attack Player of the Year award from the South Jersey Lacrosse Club. The pair led Trenton State to its third national championship in four years.
A two-time All-American, Ellis earned a bachelor's degree in sociology from Trenton State. Swezey hired Ellis to Vanderbilt after the latter had served four seasons as the assistant lacrosse and field hockey coach at Moorestown Friends High School (N.J.).
Ellis was in her third season in Music City when the Commodores made their first trip to the NCAA Tournament in 2002. Two years later, she shaped the defensive unit that propelled Vanderbilt to the 2004 NCAA Final Four by holding fifth-ranked Loyola and fourth-ranked James Madison to four goals apiece in the first two rounds of the tournament. Vanderbilt has returned to postseason play four more times since then.
Off the field, Ellis is in charge of numerous aspects of the program, including the coordination of travel arrangements. She played an important role in building Vanderbilt's CHAMPS/Life Skills program to enrich the off-the-field lives of student-athletes.
The former Susan Pley resides in Nashville with her husband, James Ellis, and their three children.