There are plenty of basketball coaches who credit Coach Wooden for helping develop their coaching philosophy, but it's a lot more rare to hear it from a soccer coach. But that's exactly what USWNT Coach Jill Ellis told Philly.com.
Ellis coached the UCLA Women's Soccer team from 1999 to 2010, leading the team to eight Final Fours including seven straight from 2003 until 2009 and six straight Pac-10 Conference Championships from 2003 until 2008.
She left UCLA to take a full-time position with U.S. Soccer and became the coach of the women's national team in 2014.
The Philly.com article by Marc Narducci really looks at the pressure that Ellis is under as the head coach of the USWNT that is expected to do very well at the Women's World Cup which started today with host team Canada defeating China 1-0.
Ellis pointed to conversations she used to have with Coach as helping her deal with pressure. Narducci quotes Ellis:
He said pressure is a great thing because one, it means you are there and in the mix. And two, he said, "embrace it," so as a young coach I always have kind of taken that approach.
Narducci also asked former Bruin Lauren Holiday about Coach's impact on Ellis. Holiday confirmed the connection:
I don't know if she has told the team, but I have heard all her John Wooden stories. Obviously John Wooden is a huge inspiration to us, especially those of us who attended UCLA and she has talked to me about Coach and how inspiring he was to her and that is pretty cool.
Considering that the U.S. Women's team has never finished lower than third, the expectations are certainly high for a team that narrowly missed winning the 2011 Women's World Cup due to penalty kicks.
Of course, Coach Ellis isn't the only UCLA connection for this year's team as Holiday and Sydney Leroux played collegiately for UCLA.
Best of luck to the USWNT!
Go USA! And, Go Bruins!