Larry Ellis was the head track coach at Princeton University for 22 years. His Princeton teams won 11 conference titles in track & field and eight more in cross country. He was the Olympic Head Coach in 1984 and Head Coach of the 1998 World Cup team.
Ellis graduated in 1947 from DeWitt High School in New York. He entered New York University, and as a freshman, he won the IC4A cross country title. As a senior, he was second in the IC4A half mile and third in the AAU Championships. He entered the Army Artillery immediately upon graduation and served seven months in the Korean War, receiving an honorary discharge in 1953.
Ellis began his teaching career in 1953 and for five years was assigned to Junior High School 139 in Manhattan. He transferred in 1958 to Jamaica High School following receipt of his master’s degree in secondary education from New York University. During his twelve years as coach of cross country and track & field at Jamaica, Ellis built his teams to prominence in Metropolitan schoolboy competition.
In 1970, Ellis moved to Princeton University, where he served as head coach for a total of 22 years. Under Ellis’s direction, the Princeton Tigers won eight of nine Heptagonal Cross Country Championships between 1975 and 1983, and Ellis received Cross Country and Indoor Track & Field Regional Coach of the Year honors in 1981-82. Among the star athletes he coached were Bob Beamon, Olympic Gold Medalist and former world record holder in the long jump, and Craig Masback, an outstanding miler/1500m runner who later served as CEO of USA Track & Field.
At Princeton, Ellis also served as a university administrator, serving as the Director of Special Educational Programs. He was also a member of four Princeton committees, including the Equal Employment Opportunities Committee and the Minority Affairs Committee.
Ellis’s contributions to track & field extend far beyond Princeton’s walls. Ellis served as head U.S. coach for a number of teams in international competitions, including the Pacific Conference Games, the 1978 USA vs. USSR meet, the World University Games, and the 1984 Olympic Games. He also served USATF in many capacities, including as Chairman of the 800m Development Committee and Chairman of the Eastern Development Committee, and was the organization’s president from 1992-96.
Ellis was inducted into the USATF Hall of Fame in 1999.