It’s the latest in a series of recognitions for the Grambling State baseball legend


Legendary Grambling State University baseball coach Wilbert Ellis was honored on Friday (Dec. 1) at the Power Center with the Southwestern Athletic Conference Alumni Lifetime Achievement Award. EllisSWACAlumniLifttimeGROUPDec012017.IMG_0907

Ellis coached the baseball team for 43 years, 17 years as an assistant and 26 as a head coach, ending an active career with a 745-462 record as a head coach. He won eight SWAC divisional championships and three SWAC championships, and nearly 50 of his ball players signed major league contracts.  

“Coach Ellis is a Grambling legend we all admire. He represents the depth of what one can achieve with discipline and hard work. He’s one of the greatest examples of our champion spirit and it’s an honor to celebrate this award with him,” said GSU President Rick Gallot. 

Noting that the honor was on the eve of the Saturday (Dec. 2) SWAC championship game at NRG Stadium here, Ellis gave the recognition some historical context.

“In 2011, I went into the SWAC Hall of Fame,” he said in an interview before the evening program. “Now here it is 2017 and I am being honored again, and the Grambling football team is at the championship again, getting ready to win as we did in 2011.”

As Ellis predicted, the G-Men did win, beating Alcorn State University 40-32. He expected that. He didn’t expect this latest honor.

Three weeks ago, sports journalist Rosco Nance called Ellis to tell him about his selection and Ellis couldn’t believe it, asking Nance, “Are you sure you have the right person?”

Ellis appreciates the latest SWAC honor, though it isn’t the first time he’s been recognized for his achievements. He was inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame in 2007, the SWAC Hall of Fame in 2011, the Grambling Legends Hall of Fame in 2012 and was chosen as the SWAC baseball coach of the year seven times. In addition, Ellis received the 2015 Robert E. Russell Award, the highest honor presented to a citizen in Lincoln Parish.

He inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame in 2007, the SWAC Hall of Fame in 2011, he was inducted into the Grambling Legends Hall of Fame in 2012 and he was chosen as the SWAC baseball coach of the year seven times. In addition, Ellis received the 2015 Robert E. Russell Award highest award that given to a citizen in Ruston-Lincoln Parish.

Ellis joined former Alcorn State Olympian Mildred Netter White, former men’s basketball coach Ben Jobe and Emanuel Barnes as honorees recognized during the Legends reception. Netter White, a 1972 Alcorn State graduate, competed on the 1968 and 1972 U.S. Olympic teams. After graduating from Fisk University, Jobe embarked on a highly successful collegiate basketball coaching career, serving as head coach of Talladega, Alabama State, South Carolina State College, Denver, Alabama A&M, Southern University (two stints) and Tuskegee. Barnes, who received the Charles “Chuck” Prophet Wagon Master Award, has served in various student- related capacities at Alcorn State since 1975 and he has been Alcorn State’s public-address announcer for its home men’s and women’s basketball games and football games for more than 30 years.  He is affectionately known as the “Voice of the Braves.”

Ellis said this latest SWAC honor is significant to him because it’s special when honored by your own. He said he is humble, thankful and appreciative and, most of all, he gives all the praise to his lord and savior Jesus Christ and his deceased parents.

GSU baseball coach James Cooper has known Ellis since 2000 when he was a freshman at the Grambling, Louisiana, school. Ellis, for whom the GSU baseball field is named, retired from GSU as Cooper was going into his senior year of baseball as a player. Ellis is a father figure for the baseball coach commonly called Coop. When he takes his baseball team on the road, he asks Ellis whether he’d like to go along.

“After being drafted he was one of the guys I would call and lean on for any type of motivation,” recalled Cooper, who was drafted to play professional baseball. “He helped me out spiritually, financially, emotionally. He was somebody I could call on or talk to.”

Cooper looks to Ellis for a lot of support. “He is the biggest cheerleader that I have…,” he added. “When you think about what he’s accomplished over the years of his life, and also throughout his career at Grambling and once he retired, he’s still working for Grambling.”