Miami Dolphins get lesson from USWNT coach Jill Ellis
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DAVIE, Fla. – Maybe some of Jill Ellis’ magic will rub off on the Miami Dolphins. Can’t hurt to try.
Ellis, who last month guided the U.S. women’s national soccer team to a second consecutive World Cup title, was a special training camp guest of Dolphins coach Brian Flores on Tuesday. It provided quite a buzz as Miami’s rookie coach huddled his team near the end and introduced Ellis to a rousing applause, then turned over the floor to allow her to address his squad.
“Anytime you can get someone of her leadership, experience and her expertise, it’s great for the team,” Flores told USA TODAY Sports. “I spent a lot of time with her. She’s as impressive of a coach as I’ve been around. I look forward to spending more time with her.”
Ellis might not have NFL expertise – she called the rebuilding Dolphins a “well-oiled machine” of all things – but she brought instant credibility with her championship pedigree.
“It was great to see her out here,” veteran receiver Brice Butler said. “They’ve been winning championships for a long time. Just to get a piece of that, a reflection of that out on our practice field is great.”
The gist of her message?
“I told them, ‘Play hard against each other in training,’ “ said Ellis, who announced she will step down from the team upon the completion of its five-game exhibition tour. “Every day, our players pushed each other. And that’s what helps you, because iron sharpens iron. And I just said we were probably the most prepared team at the World Cup, and the details and preparation is the key to get it done. And the final thing is heart. That’s always the intangible.”
The Dolphins are surely challenged to take heed as one of the most unproven teams in the NFL. Flores seeks to establish a new culture built on the type of discipline that remains a trademark at his previous stop in New England, where he was groomed by Bill Belichick.
Intended or not, featuring Ellis to echo such themes was a neat social statement. As the women’s soccer crown has rekindled conversation about compensation and gender equity, the coach of an NFL team made it a point for his players to take in a lesson from an accomplished female leader.
The enthusiastic response from Dolphins players, coaches and staff added another layer of the love Ellis has felt while on an extended victory lap since claiming the cup in France.
“Whenever you have a champion around, you want to hear what they have to say,” Dolphins safety T.J. McDonald told USA TODAY Sports. “Anyone who’s reached the top of their profession like she has, obviously has a lot of knowledge. It makes sense to tune in.”
Follow Jarrett Bell on Twitter @JarrettBell.