Troy High swim coach also happens to be Troy Athens teacher

By: Mike Moore | Troy Times | Published September 29, 2015

 Troy High swim coach Paul Ellis is pictured at a Sept. 26 meet at Lahser. Ellis coaches the girls program at Troy and teaches at Troy Athens.

Troy High swim coach Paul Ellis is pictured at a Sept. 26 meet at Lahser. Ellis coaches the girls program at Troy and teaches at Troy Athens.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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TROY — It’s a rivalry as good as any, and one enjoyed by students, athletes, fans, families and just about anyone else who associates with Troy High or Troy Athens for any reason.

And then there’s Troy High girls swim coach Paul Ellis — who just so happens to also be Troy Athens teacher Paul Ellis.

“It’s given me a pretty cool perspective on both sets of students,” Ellis said last week about teaching and coaching on opposite ends of the rivalry. “Ideally, you’d like to coach the kids you teach, but I get to know these kids in a different way. I really like that.”

Ellis said a typical day begins around 5:30 a.m. at Troy High for swim practice.

Around 7 a.m., he makes the drive to Athens where he teaches physics and chemistry.

When the school day ends, he quickly turns from a Red Hawk back to a Colt, returning to Troy for afternoon practice.

“And when I go home, I’m grading papers for Athens kids,” he said. “It’s a long day of back-and-forth.”

Ellis graduated from Bloomfield Hills Lahser in 2006.

He was a state champ in the 400-yard freestyle relay event in 2003 and in the 100 backstroke in 2006.

After swimming at Kalamazoo College, he began student teaching at Athens.

When the Troy coaching job opened up, he jumped at it, but was unable to secure a teaching position at Troy.

Then he was offered one at Athens.

“That was awesome, because I already knew the staff,” Ellis said. “I was in a place I was very familiar with, and it afforded me the chance to keep coaching.”

He said he’s heard some lighthearted jokes from time to time, but “the kids I coach know I teach at Athens, the kids I teach know I coach at Troy,” Ellis said. “It’s never really been a big deal to them.”

But who does he root for away from the pool when the two schools meet on the field of play?

“It depends who’s around me,” he said with a laugh. “If I’m at Troy, surrounded by Troy people, that’s who I root for. If I’m at Athens, that’s who I’m pulling for.”

Being in this type of situation, so to speak, isn’t entirely new for Ellis.

“When I first started coaching, I was assisting at Andover and coaching against Lahser,” he said. “That was kind of weird, coaching against my old school.”

Really, though, Ellis said his focus isn’t so much on where he is, but what his duties  as a coach and educator are.

“My job as a teacher is to help educate these kids, and as a coach, anywhere you have 25 yards of water, I’m going to do anything I can to help these girls swim as fast as they can. But I really do love being able to work with both.”

“I’ve been pleasantly surprised with what we’ve done so far,” Ellis said of his swimmers. “From what they’ve told me, the times they are hitting now aren’t the times they were getting this early in the past. They are working hard and it’s paying off.”

You can catch the Colts in action next at noon Oct. 3 at Lake Orion.

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