Steve Ellison’s 200th win

Posted by Staff Writer Eric Branch:
Petaluma coach Steve Ellison didn’t expect many of his former players to show up. And he didn’t expect T-shirts to be made for the occasion. And the cake was a surprise. And so was the heartfelt letter from Mike Holmgren.
Basically, Ellison didn’t expect much to be made of his 200th win at the school, a milestone he achieved with Petaluma’s 34-0 win over visiting Sonoma. But the man who is regarded among the Empire’s most successful, dignified and classy coaches was touched that so many people thought the moment was worth celebrating.
“I was overwhelmed,” said Ellison, 64, in his 31st year at the school. “I was just totally blown away. I thought at the end of the game someone might say ‘Hey, coach Ellison got his 200th win’ and that would be about it … The 200 wins are nice, but the thing that made it really special is that a lot of people seemed really excited for me.”
Ellison, who ran his record at the school to 200-126-7, was lifted onto his players’ shoulders after the game. Then T-shirts were distributed to players, coaches, parents and staff which read “Coach Elli’s 200th win.” A letter from former Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren, who was an assistant under Ellison at Sacred Heart Cathedral in San Francisco, was read. In the letter, Holmgren touched on Ellison’s significant impact on his career.
Petaluma assistant coach Manny Lopes, who played for Ellison from 1986-89 and has coached with him since 1990, said he could tell his understated old coach was moved by the postgame celebration.
“It was a special evening, but it was done in a real quiet way,” Lopes said. “And that’s how I’d sum up Elli — real classy and quiet. The parents and everyone did a great job of making sure it didn’t go unnoticed and if it was up to Elli it would have gone unnoticed … He’s not a grandstanding type of guy. But he was so humbly excited and just so touched.”
In the game’s final moments, Ellison did have a sense something might be happening to acknowledge No. 200. But he guessed his players might douse him with the Gatorade bucket. He asked Lopes to make sure he stayed dry.
“In his old age, he likes to play the senior-citizen card,” Lopes said with a laugh. “But I protected him. We don’t want him catching the sniffles with a big game coming up.”