by Bethany Priest, Public Relations Writer
The team was down 17 points in the third quarter of its national championship game. Their opponents were the defending champion, and dominated this year’s competition. Coach Linton Ellis, a graduate of Cedarville University, had one message for himself and his exhausted players: “Own your fear.”
For Ellis, this message is much more than a catchphrase. In all areas of his life, as entrepreneur, family man and high school basketball coach, Ellis’ passion is to challenge others to pursue their potential by owning their fear. This mantra comes from his life experiences struggling between fear and faith.
Ellis was born in Kingston, Jamaica, and grew up as one of five children with a loving mother and father. He began playing basketball his senior year of high school. His ability and passion for the game kept him out of trouble and opened a world of opportunities.
Ellis was playing for a local club team when Michael Minto, a young man also born and raised in Kingston, happened to visit home. Minto was a recent graduate of Cedarville University, where he had played basketball. After watching Ellis’ game, he suggested the young athlete apply to Cedarville. Minto put him in contact with then-basketball coach Dr. Don Callan.
Two years later, Ellis was playing basketball as a Cedarville University Yellow Jacket. He graduated in 1998 with a degree in organizational communication, and went on to complete his MBA at Michigan State University.
He settled into a position with a Fortune 50 company, with the primary motivation of providing for his wife and their three children. However, his youngest child and only daughter developed a serious heart condition and, after a failed operation, her health and Ellis’ life started a downward spiral.
A depression fueled by fear for his daughter's life, plus the insecurity that he would fail to take care of the rest of his family, set in. At the same time, it was becoming clear that his secure job was not where God wanted him to be.
In the summer of 2014, Ellis stepped out in faith and allowed his fear of the unknown to be conquered by God’s power when he left his position at the Fortune 50 company.
Today, his business, TattYoou.com, creates apparel that empowers athletes to redefine and own their fears — both on and off the court. “Fear is something that stops us from doing what God has designed and called us to do,” Ellis explained. “As God’s people we can own our fear and have faith be the light that allows us to live life at our fullest.”
Youth athletics has become one of Ellis’ greatest passions and this year marks the third season that he has volunteered as basketball coach for the varsity and junior varsity boys basketball teams at Crossroads Christian Youth Center. Crossroads is a youth ministry in Big Rock, Illinois, directed by Cedarville University alumnus Doug Pierson. The athletic programs offered by Crossroads allow homeschool athletes to participate and compete in regular competitions.
In the three years Ellis has coached Crossroads’ varsity team, named CRU, they have transformed from a team that “wasn’t on the radar” to the second-ranked homeschool team in the nation. It was this team Ellis led to the finals of the 2018 National Christian Homeschool Basketball Championship (NCHBC).
In spite of trailing in the national championship game, CRU rallied and closed the gap to one point at the game’s end. “We played a good game, so it was a heartbreaking loss, but I can’t question God,” said Ellis. “I was just grateful that we were able to band together. We just keep moving forward.”
“Failure is a part of the success process, and it’s not something that should stop you,” Ellis said. “If you get knocked down, take a moment. But don’t take too long.”
Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University is an accredited, Christ-centered, Baptist institution with an enrollment of 3,963 undergraduate, graduate, and online students in more than 150 areas of study. Founded in 1887, Cedarville is recognized nationally for its authentic Christian community, rigorous academic programs, strong graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings, and leading student satisfaction ratings. For more information about the University, visit www.cedarville.edu.