Ellens excited about returning to Simpson

Ellens excited about returning to Simpson

by Sara Sonderman

At one time or another we all want to see the world from a different angle, experience something we never thought we would, all in all…broaden our horizons. Is it possible to do that coming from a small town just outside Des Moines, Iowa? For Steve Ellens it was.

Ellens, originally from Storm Lake, graduated from Simpson in 1996 where he was a member of the men’s basketball team that qualified for the national tournament and won the Iowa Conference Championship.

Ellens returns to Iowa after a five-year departure to Phoenix, Ariz.

“I went to Phoenix because I wanted to spread my wings a little bit,” Ellens said. “I absolutely loved it there but when the chance to come back to Simpson arose, I couldn’t pass it up. My heart has been here since I was 17-years-old.”

In Arizona, Ellens began selling advertisements for a newspaper before getting a basketball coaching position at Horizon high school.

“Basketball has been my life,” Ellens said. “Both of my parents played at college and my younger brother is now playing here.”

Ellens was the assistant varsity coach and head junior varsity coach under Randy Walker. Walker is also familiar with Simpson College because his brother Dirk is a junior on this year’s team.

“It wasn’t your typical high school campus at Horizon. There were 2,600 students and there was an outdoor campus,” Ellens said.

Ellens, who replaces Chad Buchanan, has a number of duties here at Simpson College. Besides being the assistant men’s basketball coach, he is also the Academic Athletic Liaison and is in charge of athletic development.

The Academic Athletic Liaison’s primary role is to serve as a staff member and also to make sure all freshman student-athletes are making the transition from high school to college. Athletic development is a new position that will handle fundraising and advertising for the athletic department.

“[Ellens] seems like he is going to bring a lot of enthusiasm to the team,” said Dirk Walker, a junior on the men’s basketball team. “He has been through the system here so he knows what to expect. He had a lot of success in his career so hopefully that will help us out.”

Ellens said he is still enjoying Simpson even though he is on the other side now.

“I just think it is great how people care so much about their education and their extracurricular activities. I just like the attitude and passion they (student-athletes) have,” Ellens said.

Ellens’ schedule will not be slowing down anytime soon. His fiancé Joyce will be making the transition from the mild winters in Arizona to the blistering snowstorms in Iowa when she moves here in December.

“It is going to be a slight culture shock for her at first, but we just bought a house in Des Moines so we could stick to the bigger city,” Ellens said.

Basketball practice began this week for the Storm and Ellens is eager to start.

“The team made a successful run at the end of last year and have worked hard in the off-season,” Ellens said. “I’m expecting them to be very successful.”