High school girls soccer

Former Viking Grant takes reins of SDHS pitch team

Family has long connection to school; Grant was standout all-around student-athlete for Searsport
By Mark Haskell | Aug 15, 2019
Courtesy of: Emily Mello Bree Ellis.

Searsport — The Searsport District High School girls varsity soccer team will have a new leader — and familiar face — on the sidelines this fall as Bree [Grant] Ellis has been tabbed as the Vikings' coach.

The 23-year-old Ellis replaces Amber Stanhope, who guided the Vikings one season.

Ellis also has been an assistant coach to her father, Mel Grant, on the Searsport girls varsity basketball team for three years.

“It’s really exciting,” she said. “I’ve been kind of in the picture since I graduated anyway helping out with basketball, but being able to take over as the head coach on the soccer side is pretty exciting.”

Then as Bree Grant, Ellis was a three-sport athlete for Searsport and excelled at soccer, basketball and softball before her graduation in 2014. She then went on and played soccer and basketball one year at Central Maine Community College in Auburn.

Ellis always has been around her father’s teams and always enjoyed the mentoring aspect of sports. In fact, Ellis tore her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) prior to her junior year, and, where she could not help her teams on the field or the courts, became an assistant coach, of sorts, at times on her own teams, in addition to local recreation youth teams.

“That’s probably when it kind of clicked for me,” she said. “Then as soon as I wasn’t playing anymore after my freshman year of college, I jumped right in. I couldn’t be away from it.”

After graduation, Ellis coached second- and third-graders in soccer for a year, though she admitted coaching youngsters is a far cry from coaching high school student-athletes.

And, she is not one to shy from new challenges. Not only is she the school’s newest varsity coach, she and her husband, Adrian “Buddy” Ellis, have a three-month-old daughter, Lainey.

It is not lost on the family with deeply-instilled Searsport roots that they are, perhaps, living on the wrong side of the Passagassawakeag River.

“We live in Belfast, so we have a little one that’ll be going to Belfast,” she said. “I’m very, very passionate about Searsport, so we make jokes that we’re going to have to move. I’ve been surrounded by their sports since I was really young. My dad coached right out of high school since I was a baby and Searsport sports has just been my life.”

Bree said, in her three years assisting her father on the basketball court, she has learned that while the lessons instilled are often the same, each team is “psychologically different.”

“You do have the same principles coaching every year, but you have to kind of adjust as it goes. I think he’s still learning things and he’s been doing this forever, so I just have to keep an open mind," she said.

Most importantly, it appears Bree will have more than 11 players on the pitch this year. Last year’s campaign was a struggle as the Vikings often had fewer than 11 players, meaning they played the majority of their games without the benefit of a substitute.

“You never know how many of them are going to continue to play, but there were a lot of eighth-graders last year, which I loved,” Bree said. “Because as long as I’m there for a while, I’ll be able to mold the team and work on growth.”

And, where her dad is at the majority of Searsport’s home sporting events, regardless — he also is an assistant coach for the Viking varsity baseball team — chances are good he will be close by for his daughter's games.

“He knows he’s going to have to be there with Lainey,” she said. “I have a feeling he’ll be there quite a bit.”

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