William & Mary coach has close tie to U.S. national team coach Jill Ellis

William & Mary coach forged lifelong bond with national team coach

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Fans across the country are still celebrating the U.S. women’s soccer team’s World Cup Championship run.

But one fan in particular has known head coach Jill Ellis since college - the current head soccer coach at William & Mary, Julie Shackford.

From 1984 to 1987, Shackford and Ellis played side-by-side on the soccer field at William & Mary.

“I’ve been so proud to say that I could follow her journey and be a part of it,” Shackford said.

As teenagers, Shackford and Ellis became instant friends, shortly after Ellis arrived in the U.S.

“She actually had played very little soccer before she came to the U.S. as in England it wasn’t a thing,” Shackford said. “We all ended up being all-American here, had a phenomenal career and ended up being best friends as well."

U.S. Women's National Team coach Jill Ellis, left, as a player at William & Mary.
U.S. Women's National Team coach Jill Ellis, left, as a player at William & Mary. (Source: Julie Shackford)

After college, they both would continue their passion for soccer, but off the field coaching on the sidelines.

“She ended up in the college rankings as did I, and we kept our friendship going ever since,” said Shackford.

Decades later, Shackford would continue supporting her best friend on some of the biggest stages of her career..

“Kind of watching her do her thing has been nothing but short of amazing,” Shackford said.

William & Mary coach Julie Shackford as a player for the school.
William & Mary coach Julie Shackford as a player for the school. (Source: Julie Shackford)

Shackford has actually coached against Ellis, in the 2004 College Cup.

Chanting with the sea of fans in France last weekend, Shackford witnessed her best friend do something that hasn’t been done since the men’s side in the early 1930s.

“To be able to literally make all the chess moves and come out with another world cup is nothing but phenomenal,” Shackford said.

Shackford said Ellis winning back-to-back championships sends a message and opens doors.

“I think they’re right at the forefront of talking about issues of equal pay and merit,” Shackford said. “They’re the nation’s team, but in many ways, they’re the world’s team.”

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