Ellis Taking Reins as Franklin High Athletic Director
Franklin High’s new AD, Karrah Ellis, has lots of experience as an athletic administrator.
By KEN HAMWEY
Staff Sports Writer
Karrah Ellis, the new athletic director at Franklin High, has a background that makes her a solid choice to succeed Tom Angelo, who’s stepping down after six outstanding years as the Panthers’ athletic chief.
The 45-year-old Ellis has been in the athletic and academic trenches for two decades in venues that include Grafton High, Algonquin and Tantasqua Regional. Ellis has her bachelors and master’s degrees from Worcester State where she majored in communications, then earned her master’s in secondary education.
At Grafton she taught English for seven years, coached jayvee field hockey and varsity girls basketball, then became the athletic director during her last four years at the central Mass. school. “During my 12 years at Grafton, the school atmosphere was not only excellent, but also very positive,’’ Ellis said. “That’s where I learned how to be an A.D.’’
A native of Holden, Ellis later served for four years as the A.D. at Algonquin, a regional high school that draws from Northboro and Southboro.
Five years ago, when Ellis moved to Tantasqua, which draws students from Brimfield, Brookfield, Holland, Sturbridge and Wales, she wasn’t in unfamiliar territory. “It was a good fit,’’ she said. “I knew a lot about the school because Grafton was in the same conference (Southern Worcester County League). I coached against Tantasqua’s teams when I was at Grafton.’’
Now, Ellis is preparing to take the athletic reins at the larger Franklin High, where success in sports in a way of life. Excluding the spring season, Angelo’s six years at FHS produced 108 Hockomock League championships, 36 sectional crowns, 6 state titles and one New England championship.
“I’m excited about the opportunity to work at Franklin High,’’ Ellis emphasized. “It’s a great fit. During the interview process, I met the leadership team at the high school, the superintendent of schools, about 35 captains, the coaching staff, faculty members and parents. The success of student-athletes is simply amazing.’’
Ellis’ goals at FHS are all in alignment with what’s transpired in the past.
“I want to develop positive relationships with everyone,’’ she noted. “Continuing to develop the growth of our student-athletes is a priority, and that will lead to building on the success FHS has experienced. I also want to support the coaching staff and their efforts to help student-athletes be the best they can be.’’
When Ellis was at Grafton, the school won six state titles, and at Algonquin, she was on board when the school made two state title appearances. She’s acutely aware of Franklin’s success in winning the Dalton Award, presented by The Boston Globe, that goes to a high school that produces the top winning percentage in all varsity sports. The Panthers have won three in five years but a fourth looks very promising for FHS.
“Winning all those Dalton Awards speaks to the dedication of the school community,’’ Ellis said. “And, it speaks to how dedicated the student-athletes and coaches are to athletics. It also shows that athletics play an important role in the lives of students.’’
Ellis, who’ll officially take over as A.D. on July 1, isn’t about to make any sweeping changes. “What’s important is getting to know everyone and to build positive relationships,” she said, “When that happens, as a team, we can achieve anything.’’
Ellis knows that competing in the Hockomock League is all about achievement, and she’s impressed with how widely the conference is respected. “The Hockomock League is outstanding,’’ she said. “Its reputation is unbelievable. I look forward to working with the A.D.s in the league.’’
Since the married mother of two played sports and later coached, her athletic philosophy has been a combination of winning, reaching her potential and enjoying being competitive. “If a student or a coach works hard, is dedicated, sacrifices and has passion for a specific sport, then winning will be the by-product,’’ she said. A graduate of Wachusett Regional, Ellis played field hockey, basketball and softball. She was a captain and a league all-star in field hockey and basketball.
Ellis is quick to mention a half dozen valuable life lessons that can be learned in sports.
“Students learn how to deal with adversity,’’ she offered. “It makes them resilient. They also learn how to set goals and achieve them, they become good teammates and they understand the importance of self-advocacy and communication. They also get a feel for what it’s like to leave their comfort zone.’’
Two terrific honors that Ellis achieved at Grafton and Algonquin were Athletic Director of the Year (Grafton) and the State Award of Merit (Algonquin), presented by the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association. The Shrewsbury resident enjoys reading, cooking and watching her daughter and son play sports.
At Franklin High, Karrah Ellis no doubt will be involved with a different kind of baking. She hopes to be using all the ingredients available to cook up some added championships for the Panthers.