Jamie Ellis (Smith)
Who says "you can't go home again"? Jamie Smith not only didn't pay heed to that admonition, she came home and thrived, influencing the lives of the students and players she's taught and coached.
Salem native Jamie Smith attended Sprague High School from 1991-1995. She was a three year member of the varsity cross-country team – qualifying with her team for the state meet - and played basketball as a 9th grader. It was in softball, however, where she really excelled, becoming one of the most dominant pitchers in Oregon during her days as an Oly.
During a time in which it was rare for a 9th grader to play varsity, Smith was assigned to the junior varsity team. However, following a JV game in which she struck out every batter she faced, head coach Gunnar Gabrielsen realized what he had and her JV career was over.
During her time at Sprague, the Olys won the Valley League championship three years running. In her 9th grade year she led Sprague to the state semi-finals and as a junior took them to their first ever state softball final. As a junior Smith struck out 19 in a no-hitter versus Lebanon High School. She was first team All-Valley League from '92 – '95. She was named Valley League Pitcher of the Year in '93 and Player of the Year in '94 as well as member of the Statesman-Journal All-Region team. Smith earned All-State honors in each of her four high school years and pitched in the Oregon “State vs. Metro” all-star game after her senior year, helping her “state” team win each of the four games. She was a 1994 National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) All-American Honorable Mention and played for the Oregon Gators travel team that won the '95 state championship and regional championship, finishing 17th in the nation.
Smith was also a member of the National Honor Society while at Sprague.
Post-high school Smith was offered and accepted a softball scholarship to Division I Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) where she played for five years including a red shirt year. As a frosh she pitched Tech to their first ever win over Florida State University and a top ten opponent. She was named Atlantic Alliance Player of the Week and a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) All-Academic team. Smith left GTU second in school history for career pitching wins. She was on the Dean's List at Tech for both her junior and senior years and graduated in 2000 with a Bachelor of Science degree in management.
Upon completion of her athletic and academic experience for the Yellow Jackets, Smith came back home – to Salem and Sprague High School - in 2001 and began her coaching career as a softball varsity assistant as well as an assistant varsity soccer coach and an assistant JV basketball coach. She began teaching at Sprague in '04. During her three years as a varsity assistant, Sprague’s softball team won two Valley League championships, with the '03 team winning Sprague's first state softball championship - a team that will be inducted this school year into the Sprague Hall of Fame. She became the Oly's head softball coach in 2004 and coached for the next eight years, winning three conference championships, finishing 3rd in state in '05. Her '06 team went undefeated in the Valley League at 18-0. Smith was named Valley League Coach of the Year twice as well as Central Valley Conference Coach of the Year. In 2012 she stepped away from coaching to become a mom.
Jamie Smith eventually became Jamie Ellis with her marriage to husband Ike. The 2018-19 school year will be Ellis' 15th year of teaching, all at Sprague High School where she began as a PE and health teacher. She currently teaches Medical Terminology and Introduction to Health Services and with colleague Amy West has grown Sprague’s Health Services program into a comprehensive Sports Medicine program offering more than 18 college credits as well as hands-on experience in the field. At this time Ellis teaches part time at Sprague where she splits her time between the two passions in her life - her students and her family. She hopes to teach her entire career at and ultimately retire from her alma mater.
In addition to her husband, Ellis has two children – Caitlin and Timmy. She enjoys spending time with her family and is very close with her dad Bob and her mom Debbie, both of whom she credits for helping her achieve her dreams. She also very much enjoys running, and completed her first marathon last year.
"... the people who know me best know that [these] accomplishments are only part of me and what I am proud of. Inside of me, my passion is for the work ethic, grit, and perseverance it took to accomplish my own goals, and more importantly being able to pass that onto my players and students. Following young kid's lives, watching them chase and succeed in reaching their dreams, has been more of a reward than any accomplishment or award I could ever earn. The success of my players and students is my true reward, and that is what I am most proud of." Jamie Ellis (Smith)
"I had the pleasure of working with Jamie (Smith) Ellis wnen I was the varsity softball coach at Sprague HS. Because of her talent and drive the Olys were a top ranked team in Oregon from 1992-1995. As a team leader through that stretch, she displayed a strong work ethic and a dedication to her craft of pitching. Post-high school Jamie was an integral part of the Georgia Tech softball program. I am most proud of the fact that she is a well respected teacher at Sprague and is an outstanding wife and mother. So proud to have been your high school coach Jamie!" Gunnar Gabrielsen