High-Scoring Tina Ellertson
Learned a New Role For U.S. Women
Tina (Frimpong) Ellertson was a goal-scorer. She had always been a goal-scorer, from her time at Vancouver’s Columbia Premier Soccer Club — where she battled future UW and USWNT teammate Hope Solo, then playing in Richland, for the state scoring lead — to her time on the Washington Youth Soccer ODP and Region IV ODP squads, to her prolific career at the University of Washington, where she teamed with Solo to lead the Huskies to new heights.
By the time Ellertson (then Tina Frimpong) graduated in 2005, she had broken almost every UW scoring record, including career goals (43) and career points (99), and had led the Huskies to the NCAA Championship quarterfinals. She was a second-team All-American, and the only woman ever to earn back-to-back Pac-10 Women’s Soccer Player of the Year honors.
Like Solo two years before her, Ellertson was on the fast track to stardom with the U.S. Women’s National Team … only, for the first time in her career, she was asked not to score goals, but to prevent them. The U.S. at the time had a glut of high-scoring forwards — what it needed was a smart, savvy, athletic defender. And if it was one who could get inside the mind of opposing forwards, and predict what they were about to do, so much the better.
"She's got the natural abilities to be one of the best defenders in the world," said Greg Ryan, then the USWNT Head Coach.
He was right. Over the next few years, Ellertson became a dominant force on the back line for the U.S., playing just in front of her former UW teammate, Solo. After earning her first caps in 2005, Ellertson became a fixture in defense in 2006, and played in three games for the U.S. at the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup, bringing home a bronze medal.
Ellertson also starred professionally at home, playing for the Seattle Sounders Women while finishing her college career, then moving on to the St. Louis Atletica, Atlanta Beat and magicJack of Women’s Pro Soccer. She was nominated for WPS Defender of the Year three times, and earned a reputation as one of America’s toughest and most athletic players.
"She is one of the best, pure one-on-one defenders in the country and creates chaos going forward," said fellow USWNT teammate Kate Markgraf, in an interview with ESPN. "I bet she is on every forward's top two players they don't want to go against."
Following nearly a decade on the professional and international stage, however, Ellertson decided to trade her cleats for a whistle — going from soccer star to soccer mom, and coaching her daughter Mackenzie’s youth team in Vancouver. It’s a trade she was more than happy to make.
"I can't imagine soccer without my kids," Ellertson said. "You value soccer even more. I want to keep going with this. I want to take my kids along for the ride."