Algonquin names new athletic director
By Sue Wambolt, Contributing Writer
Northborough/Southborough – After 16 years as athletic director for Algonquin Regional High School (ARHS), Fran Whitten, 57, prepares to pass the baton to Karrah Ellis, previously athletic director for Grafton High School.
Whitten will leave Algonquin with many fond memories.
“Highlights as athletic director at Algonquin include baseball state finals at Fenway Park my first year, boys’ soccer winning two state championships in a row, the addition of various programs as the athletic department expanded and watching kids arrive as freshmen and depart as mature and responsible young men and women,” Whitten said. “Also, the class of 2013 dedicated their yearbook to me.”
Following his departure, Whitten will continue as a National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) coach education instructor, National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA) leadership training instructor, Central Massachusetts Lacrosse Tournament director and, possibly, an official for soccer and baseball or softball.
On July 31, Whitten will officially hand the keys to the athletic director’s office over to Ellis, to whom he leaves this advice: “Always put the kids’ best interest first.”
Ellis, 37, grew up in Holden and attended Wachusett Regional High School, where she was a four-year student athlete. After high school, she attended Norwich University in Vermont and then transferred to Worcester State University for her junior and senior years. It was here that she earned a B.A. in communications followed by a M.Ed. in secondary education.
In 2001, Ellis took a job as an English teacher at Grafton High School. In 2008, she transitioned to physical education teacher and director of athletics. While at Grafton, she coached junior varsity field hockey and varsity girls’ basketball and was both a class advisor and newspaper advisor.
Before setting goals as athletic director, Ellis plans to take some time assessing the current status of the athletic department.
“One of my first objectives as athletic director will be to meet with and get to know the entire coaching staff, the student athletes, the faculty and staff of AHRS, parents and guardians as well as community members,” said Ellis. “I want to help student athletes understand that athletics are an extension of the classroom. They help teach important life lessons including teamwork, sportsmanship, hard work, how to deal with adversity as well as success… It is important to provide student athletes with a safe environment in which they have as many opportunities as possible and are provided with quality programs.”
Ellis said that she believes in hard work, teamwork, and a positive attitude.
Ellis comes to ARHS with no shortage of experience. She is a Certified Athletic Administrator and is about to complete her project to become a Certified Master Athletic Administrator. In addition, she is a certified NFHS coach education instructor and an NIAAA leadership training instructor. She is on the Executive Board of the Massachusetts Secondary School Athletic Directors Association (MSSADA) and serves on the MSSADA Mentor Committee for new athletic directors.
Ellis lives in Shrewsbury with her husband, Mark, and their two children, Jarrett and Emma. Mark has been a physical education teacher at Westborough High School (WHS) for 16 years and just completed his 11th year as head football coach for the WHS Rangers.
“Thanksgiving this year will be very interesting,” said Ellis, looking ahead to the rival football game between ARHS and WHS.
In her spare time, Ellis is training for her second triathlon.
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