Volleyball’s quarterback

Ella May Powell

Ella May Powell anchors a grateful team: ‘Your donations mean everything to us’

Ella May Powell was exhausted.

Although college scouts no longer recruit very young Volleyball players, the standout setter from Arkansas fielded her first scholarship offer in the eighth grade. Over the next several years, she traveled to countless schools across the country as she weighed her college future. When Washington invited her to visit, a worn-out Ella May told her parents, “Nope, I’m not going.”

“I was mentally drained, but my parents talked me into it,” she recalls. “Even in phone calls before I got on the plane, Washington made me feel so appreciated as a person and valued for who I am. They showed me around campus like a normal visit, and then Keegan (Cook, Volleyball head coach) and I just sat on the court and talked for a couple hours. This team wanted me for my character, not just my volleyball skills.”

Ella May made the right choice.

She’s thrived at Washington as a student, an athlete and a leader. “The quarterback of the volleyball team” as she describes her role as setter, helped lead the Huskies to an NCAA Final Four berth last season. Along the way, she developed a new sense of gratitude for what the game and its supporters have taught her.

“So many people worked so hard and gave so much to make the year seem normal to us. Even though they couldn’t be in the stands (because of the pandemic), we all felt such deep appreciation for the donors who enable us to follow our dreams. Your donations mean everything to us,” says Ella May, whose scholarship is funded by loyal Husky donor Anne Gittinger.

“Volleyball has taught me so much about life,” adds the senior communications major. “I’ve learned to lead, on the court and off; to understand how to motivate people; to develop mental toughness; and to be candid and come from a place of love. Whatever the future holds, I’ll carry a lot of these skills with me.”

Her immediate future includes two more seasons with the Huskies. Two more years to learn, grow and relish every moment on the court.