Editor’s note: Former University of Maine and Mount View basketball star Emily Ellis takes part in a question and answer session with the BDN’s Larry Mahoney.
Q: You are a small town girl from Brooks. Could you have ever envisioned a career like you’ve had, one that includes four Halls of Fame?
A: Never. As a matter of fact, that wasn’t even on my radar. I never dreamed that anything like that was going to happen. All I knew was that I was going to play basketball the second that hoop went up on the pine tree, that was it. I was done.
Q: To what do you attribute your success?
A: Well, you know, Brooks is a small town. There wasn’t a lot going on. You know when you’re shooting and it’s fun and you’re good so you think maybe you should work a little harder. It’s my bliss. I followed hoops the whole time.
Q: Who were major influences?
A: You know, it’s going to sound funny, but I don’t recall any basketball players being influential because it wasn’t really on my radar. Probably the biggest influences were my dad (Vaughn) and my mom (Kathleen). My mom played. She played on a championship team in 1961. I always wanted to be a champion. I was always a competitor and it didn’t matter what it was. And my grandparents (were influences). It was Brooks. We didn’t have the same exposure in 1981.
Q: What do you consider highlights and lowlights of your career?
A: The highlights would just be the sweat, the blood, the game, the friends. That’s the highlight. I wouldn’t say it was a certain game or anything. The lowlight would be never beating Northeastern. We just couldn’t beat them. That was a killer. We would have great games and we’d lose by a point.
Q: You still play basketball three times a week. Are you still as competitive as you were in college?
A: No, because my brain works on another level than where my body works (laughs).
Q: How has basketball helped your real estate career?
A: Some may say everything I needed to know I learned in kindergarten but I would say everything I needed to know I learned on the basketball court. It has served me very well. Honestly, there’s nothing in real life that feels like it’s not able to be accomplished because it’s just about figuring out how the game is played, what are the rules and how to go about it. I use basketball analogies all the time. Everybody kind of laughs at me. But basketball is the same thing as real life.
Q: What would be a perfect 24 hours for you?
It’s weird. When I thought about this question and when I started writing down what would be perfect, it’s what I already do (laughs). I’d like to have a few more trips to the beach and have the family together more often. But it’s a good life.
Q: If you could invite three people to a dinner party, living or dead, who would they be?
A: It’s funny. I thought about this quite a bit. I’d love to meet a young Muhammad Ali, I’d like to have known Maya Angelou and Nelson Mandela. But when I really started to think about it a little more, I think the people I would like to have really like to have would be my mother, my nanny (grandmother Galena Ellis) and my grandfather (Clayton Pattee).
Q: What irritates you and what would people be surprised to know about you?
A: The thing that irritates me is when people don’t do their job. When I’m doing real estate, I have an expectation. You have an expectation of people being as enthusiastic about what they do as I am about what I do. That irritates me. Good enough works for a lot of people but it doesn’t work for me.
I think some people would be surprised that I’m still playing basketball. I have a whistle that’s really, really really loud and I’m actually an expert at breading fried clams. I spent a summer doing that. I’m still an expert at that.
What’s on your bucket list?
I know [daughter] Hillary and I are going to go back through Europe. She spent a semester abroad in Rome so we’ll be going back over there. She wants to show me the places where she loved to be in Rome and I want to show her my teammates and the places I used to go in Finland and Austria. We’ll probably go go to Sweden and see some more of Europe because it’s kind of a cool thing for us to do together. With [son] Ellis, I don’t know what it’s going to be. We have a great relationship. We’re kind of intuitive with each other. He’ll be doing things at the same time I’m doing things and we’ll show up at Subway at the same time. It’s just weird. We do this all the time. We always just laugh. We could do it all week long and go to different places and end up in the same place. We have a great relationship. We’ll figure out what it is he wants to do.