William & Mary women’s soccer coach John Daly laughs when asked if he sees any similarities in his coaching style and that of Jill Ellis, who is one victory from leading the United States to the Women’s World Cup title.
Ellis played on Daly’s first team with the Tribe, and their styles couldn’t be less alike.
“Jill is very calm, very collected whereas I’m a little volatile when I’m on the line,” said Daly, who enters his 30th season at the college in Williamsburg, Virginia. “The only time Jill gets out of her calm demeanor is when one of her players gets kicked. She’s up pretty quickly, and when her team scores.”
The Americans play Japan at 7 p.m. Sunday for the title in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Daly, who is approaching 400 career victories at William & Mary, has had several former players go into coaching. Erica Walsh, an assistant on the World Cup staff, is the head coach at Penn State; Lindsey Vanderspiegel is the head coach at VCU and Julie Shackford retired this year after 20 years at Princeton.
Ellis played for Williams & Mary from 1984-87 and coached 12 seasons at UCLA, leading the Bruins to the national semifinals eight times. She left to join U.S. Soccer as the fulltime development director for women’s national teams.
She didn’t demonstrate a desire to become a coach while in college, Daly said, but it’s no surprise she’s taken that route. Her father, John, moved the family from England to Virginia in 1980 and started a soccer instructional academy that is still running.
For the 48-year-old Ellis, Daly’s coaching served to reinforce the passion for soccer that started at home.
“He was tremendous to me,” she said. “I have always had passion for the game but he continued to fuel that. … He was a coach that gave his players a lot of freedom in terms of what they could do, and I think it continued to foster my love of the sport.”
On the pitch, Ellis’ knowledge and feel for the game were obvious, Daly said.
“She was so technical,” he said. “She had great ball control and technically was just superb, and when you have that kind of basis for your coaching, it’s a strong, strong factor.”
The school plans a watch party for the final game, but Daly won’t be there.
Daly, born in London to Irish parents, knows how intense he will be during the game. So he’ll watch alone “because people will think I’m a crackpot when I’m yelling at the TV screen, and if I’m in other people’s company, I’ll tend to do that. I get really wound up.”
He’s also pretty confident that the U.S. team is primed to win it all for the first time since 1999.
“It’s an extreme high,” Daly said, “and it will be even moreso when Jill brings the trophy back.”
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