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Taylor Ellingsen continues a Cougar family legacy

Freshman defensive specialist Taylor Ellingsen.

Freshman defensive specialist Taylor Ellingsen.

By Brett Gleason, Evergreen Volleyball reporter

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Before Taylor Ellingsen became a part of WSU volleyball’s 14th nationally ranked recruiting class, her great-grandfather, great-uncle, grandfather and father all donned the crimson and gray.

Carl “Tuffy” Ellingsen, Taylor’s great-grandfather, competed in football, baseball and boxing and was inducted into the WSU Athletics Hall of Fame in 1980.

In 1984, her great-uncle, Don Ellingsen, joined Carl in the WSU Athletics Hall of Fame for his achievements in football and track.

After them came Jim and Ron Ellingsen, Taylor’s grandfather and father, who competed in tennis and golf at WSU, respectively.

Now Taylor carries the tradition of Ellingsens in Cougar athletics into its fourth generation, this time bringing the family name into Bohler Gym.

“It’s really cool actually,” she said. “Yeah, you could say it’s sort of a family school. This year I think there is nine Ellingsens going to school here: (my) two older sisters and just a bunch of cousins.”

While Taylor said she wasn’t always sure she could make the volleyball team, her desire was to always become a Cougar. Yet when the opportunity to play in crimson finally presented itself, it took little convincing to get her to say yes.

After attending a camp lead by WSU Head Coach Jen Greeny in Spokane and another camp here in Pullman, Jen and Burdette Greeny made their offer.

“After camp was over we did a little recruiting presentation,” Assistant Coach Burdette said. “I think after we did it she said, ‘Let me go talk to my parents,’ and it was like about an hour after lunch she came back and said, ‘Yep, I’m in.’ We asked her if she wanted more (information) and she said, ‘No.’”

That desire to be a Cougar appealed to Burdette, who recognized her name after that second camp.

“We saw the Ellingsen lineage going back as far as her great grandpa and great uncle,” Burdette said. “That means something to us too, and when people want to be Cougs in their blood, it definitely means something to us.”

Taylor’s journey to Bohler started by following her friends onto the volleyball court.

“At first I actually wasn’t very good,” she said. “I didn’t make the same team as all my friends and I didn’t like it and I wanted to quit but my mom told me to keep doing it and then I just fell in love with the game.”

Befitting her current position as a defensive specialist, it was that side of the game that drew her into a lasting love with the sport.

“I love the feeling of defense, like you get to be the one that stops the big kill and when everyone thinks it’s over you get to be the one that saves it and keeps it going,” Taylor said. “I like that feeling, and I just love how team oriented it is, this is like the ultimate team sport.”

Taylor has found success off the court as well. She was named the 2013 Valedictorian at Mead High School in Spokane after earning a 4.0 GPA and plans on studying pre-med or pre-dental while at WSU.

While her last name might be thought to carry unusually high expectations, Taylor says she doesn’t feel any added pressure.

 “My family doesn’t put a lot of pressure on me,” she said. “They’re just happy that I’m here and having this opportunity so yeah, not a whole lot of pressure.”

Taylor and the rest of the Cougar volleyball team travel to Huntsville, Texas this weekend to compete in the Sam Houston Invitational.

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Taylor Ellingsen continues a Cougar family legacy