Monday Motivation: Coach Nick Ellis of New Albany HS

(New Albany's boys team for the 2022 season. Photo courtesy of Coach Ellis)

Welcome back to the "Monday Motivation" series. We invite coaches around the state to give insight into their teams recent performances and have them relay messages that they have shared with their teams at various points in the season.

This week's piece comes from New Albany boys and girls head coach Nick Ellis. The New Albany Bulldogs have some unique aspects to their team this year and also could be in a position to qualify for the State meet for the first time in over 10 years.

Read below a quick bio of Coach Ellis and then his message in this week's Monday Motivation.

I started as an assistant coach for cross country and boys track at New Albany during the 2013-2014 school year. The 2014 track season had 3 distance runners. I took over the boys cross country team as head coach in 2015 and we won the team's first sectional title in 15 years. During the 2019 track season the team won its first sectional title since 2006 and first regional title since 1971. In 2020 I added the girls cross country team to my coaching duties. We were incomplete that year but currently have 9 girls on the roster. Lila Endres and Lauren Clark committed to an incomplete team. They are the foundation of the revival of New Albany girls cross country. As a younger (dumber) coach I didn't think I had much to learn from the other track coaches but working with that staff has made me much better at my job. Jane Wehmiller, Kyle Weigleb, Jensen Ricke, Adam Shalley, Mick Schnell, Kevin Stout, and Vince Hogue all played a role in shaping how I operate.

This past weekend we raced at the Shelbyville Golden Bear. We are geographically isolated deep in southern Indiana. If we want to attend a large race we have to take long bus rides. Aidan Lord led wire to wire winning in 15:19. Aaron Lord was 3rd. Ben Jacobs ran a personal best placing 14th. We had five additional personal bests and finished 4th as a team. 

The girls team had two season bests and five personal bests from our varsity 7. This meet was a big step forward for them. 

Each week we spend some time talking about an ancillary component of cross country based on how the season is going. This week we read an old race reflection from one of our alumni after he was pulled from the 4x800 because of a bad run at the conference meet. He changed his mindset, ran an outstanding race at the sectional, and earned his spot back for the regional. The following week at the state meet he helped set our school record. The takeaway from this is that I will do everything I can to put you in a position to succeed but as an athlete you are personally responsible for your performance on race day. You control your preparation at practice and your mindset and execution in a meet. I am here to help. Your teammates will support you. But you have to carry your own during the race.

  (New Albany's girl's team for the 2022 season. Photo courtesy of Coach Ellis)

As we approach October my advice to coaches is the same as the advice I give my team in the coming weeks. Maintain the rhythm. New Albany Floyd County schools have a two week fall break beginning with sectional week. Maintain your sleep rhythm. Maintain your nutritional habits. Now is not the time to try cliff diving or base jumping. Maintain your training. The long run on the hilly route works. Maintain it. The weight room works. Maintain it. If I knew a magical combination of workouts, rest, and decreased volume to make you 45 seconds faster in a week we would have done it multiple times already. It doesn't exist. Continue doing what works. 

I'm guessing most people choosing to read this article know about Aaron and Aidan Lord. They get a lot of attention due to the times they've run and overall placement at meets. But very few people know the names of the next 3 guys. Some may ask, are we fractured? At practice is it the twins by themselves and everyone else? No. We are a united team. Most people wouldn't guess that Aidan ran JV in his first high school race. He ran 19:29 at CERAland in his 2nd race.

At New Albany we don't get superstars; we have to be better at getting better than the other teams. This approach has led to the team dynamic we have now. After running in the 15:40s last season the Lords continued to be better at getting better. Ben Jacobs debuted as a freshman a 20 minute guy but ran 16:38 last week. Isaac Cooley, Jacob Evalid, and whoever claims the last two spots on the varsity roster all share the same core value of being better at getting better. This is what binds us. Everyone in the program believes they can achieve drastic improvements because they have seen two of the best runners in the state do it while wearing the same uniform they do.

A state meet birth is not probable but it is a goal. Our 5 scorers will have to run faster. We talk about it at practice. Our efforts and attention to detail are aided by the possibility. Having the twins on the team is fun. They are good people, easy to coach, and run very fast. They will graduate as the most decorated cross country runners to come through New Albany.  But I take pride in the improvement of everyone on the team. And it will take everyone on the team for the team to advance to the state meet. 


If you are a coach that wants to be a part of the series this season, reach out to us at for more information.