Introduction of Dorie Ellis, presented by Erica DeCandido, Class of 2020 and Women's Basketball Team member
Long before the passage of Title IX in the 1970s, the women’s athletics teams at Jackson College were growing and evolving, thanks to pioneers like Dorie Ellis. Along with several of her teammates, Dorie helped to successfully advocate for Jackson teams in women’s basketball, women’s baseball and field hockey to be elevated to varsity status like the men’s teams.
A 1931 graduate of Jackson College who played all three of those sports and others, Dorie was an outstanding multi-sport student-athlete and a tough competitor. Captain of the very first women’s baseball team, Dorie once said, “I recall a baseball game against Pembroke during which several of the football players wandered over after practice to give us support. I have one recollection of a very sore, bone-bruised hand, even though I stuffed a bulky handkerchief in my shortstop mitt to soften the impact of a line drive.”
On the same day that she graduated from Jackson College, Dorie married Fred "Fish" Ellis, who is regarded as one of the best all-around athletes to ever play at Tufts. Fish went on to become a head coach of football, basketball and golf at Tufts, as well as a professor of physical education. And just a year ago, Fish was inducted into the Tufts Athletics Hall of Fame as a member of the inaugural class.
As an alumna, Dorie worked in admissions and publications at Tufts, and she was an active member of the Jackson Alumnae Association. In 1961, the Tufts Alumni Association presented Dorie with its Distinguished Service Award. Dorie was also a very active member of the Jumbo Club, and in 1977, she became the first female recipient of a Jumbo Club Award.
In recognition of the Ellis family’s historical connection to Tufts, Dorie is regarded as the Matriarch of Tufts Athletics. Starting with Dorie and Fish, four generations of the Ellis family have attended Tufts, including Fred and Dorie's daughters Faith and Susan who are here tonight.
Dorie passed away in 2011, but her many contributions to Tufts Athletics over the years, and her steadfast efforts on behalf of women’s athletics, will be remembered for decades to come.
As Dorie said in 1995 when Tufts had a yearlong Women's Sports Celebration, “Although women in athletics was in its infancy during those early years, it was a wonderful experience for all who competed, and I felt it was an essential part of my college experience. As I watch with admiration women's athletic events on TV and occasionally a game at the high school or college level, I think the saying, ‘You've come a long way baby,’ says it all!”
Dorie played basketball here at Tufts more than 85 years ago, and I stand her tonight as a Jumbo women’s basketball student-athlete who is directly benefitting from Dorie’s trail-blazing spirit. It is my great, great honor to say thank you to Dorie and to help celebrate her well-deserved induction into the Tufts Athletics Hall of Fame.
We are thrilled to have another large contingent of the Ellis Family here again this year. Among them are Dorie’s and Fish’s daughters, Faith Ellis Heneghan and Susan Ellis Costas, who will be coming up to the stage in a moment. AND there is one other special Ellis family member who will be joining us on stage --- she plays basketball, flag football, and is the star goal-keeper for her soccer team, and we hope to be inducting her into this Hall of Fame some day because we hear that she’s every bit the athlete that her Dorie Ellis was! Please welcome Faith and Susan, and….to accept the Hall of Fame trophy in honor of her namesake and great grand-mother, please welcome 11-year old Dorie McNamara to the stage.