Ellen graduated high school from St. Bernards High School in Uncasville, CT in 1983. There she played basketball and ran track. Ellen qualified for the State Open in the 200 meter run and in basketball, Ellen was a two year All Area and All State basketball player and scored more than 1000 points. In that time, 1000 points was even more rare than today as youth development programs were nonexistent and there was no three point line. In 2010, Ellen was honored to be inducted into the St. Bernards Athletic Hall of Fame.
Ellen attended Springfield College in Springfield, MA and graduated in 1987 with a degree in Physical Education. There she played basketball for four years and was a starting forward her junior and senior years.
After graduation, Ellen substitute taught at Wheeler High School in North Stonington, CT and coached varsity girls’ basketball at Montville High School until she became a full time physical education teacher at Wheeler in 1989. Besides enjoying her new role as a physical education teacher, Ellen put her athletic interests and talents to work immediately by becoming an assistant coach for volleyball, girls’ basketball, and varsity softball at Wheeler.
Ellen married William Turner whom she had met at Wheeler High School in 1989 in 1991. William was a mathematics teacher who also coached multiple sports at Wheeler High School.
Ellen continued to coach several sports at Wheeler until she became varsity girls’ basketball coach in 1994. Not long after, the Turner’s celebrated the birth of their first son, Christopher, in 1995. Like many other dedicated educational professionals, Ellen balanced her work, sports, and family commitments well and met with success. In 1998, Ellen’s Lady Lions basketball team defeated St. Paul in the Class S CT State Championship to end a 20-0 storybook regular season with only one overall bitter season loss to a powerful Morgan team in the Shoreline Conference Championships.
With the birth of her second son, Kenneth, in 2001, Ellen stepped down as a coach at Wheeler and became the Athletic Director. Wheeler, being one of the smallest public high schools in CT and located on the border of Rhode Island and in the SE corner of CT, needed a new athletic direction. Ellen recognized this need and led Wheeler Athletics to transition from the Shoreline Conference to the Eastern Connecticut Conference in 2002. While a member of the ECC, Ellen has tirelessly advocated for the small high school members of the conference and worked to strengthen the small school division of the conference.
In 2014, the ECC was in crisis with the league close to breaking up by enrollment and geography due to issues of competitive imbalance. Ellen recognized that the ECC was the best choice for her school. She met with the other small high school athletic directors, worked together, and compromised with the larger schools to create a new athletic alignment and divisional concept to allow the small schools to have greater athletic success within the conference. These new divisions, together with a tournament structure by size of school, have benefited the small schools and restored balance to the league.
As an Athletic Director in the ECC, Ellen runs the conference youth leadership program and has chaired the volleyball, softball, cheerleading, and girls’ lacrosse divisions. In 2017, Ellen’s role in the conference leadership structure changed and she became the chairperson for all the league’s sales promotions and student awards for athletics, sportsmanship, and scholastic ability.
Many high schools have had a reduction in student populations from even five years ago. A reduced student population poses significant challenges to a small high school like Wheeler whose student population is under two hundred. Ellen has overseen enhanced opportunities for students to engage in other sports they would otherwise never have the opportunity to experience in high school. With the assistance of the CIAC and other area high schools, Wheeler has joined cooperative sports programs in boys’ lacrosse, boys’ swimming, football, and boys’ hockey and created Teams of One in indoor and outdoor track.
Ellen is most proud of her league contributions to the ECC Student Leadership Program that she has chaired for the past ten years. Each March, ten junior student athletes from each of the nineteen member schools come together to participate in a program that Ellen has designed to promote leadership and sportsmanship in athletics.
Ellen just completed her thirtieth year at Wheeler High School where she remains a full time physical education teacher and the athletic director today.
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