Kyle Ringo
Kyle Ringo
Some days and old memories stick out for Karen Tucker as her first clues that her daughter, Ann Elliott, might be destined for big accomplishments.

Those memories flowed through Tucker's mind Monday afternoon as she sat in the front row at a press conference on the club level at Folsom Field on the University of Colorado campus watching her youngest child introduced as the first head coach of the school's new women's lacrosse program.

"We all are very proud of her," Tucker said.

Perhaps the first time Tucker realized she might have her hands full with little Ann was during a simple mother-daughter trip to the shopping center in Shaker Heights, Ohio, where Ann was raised. Ann was 2 at the time and she and her mother were waiting at a crosswalk.

Karen looked down at her daughter and asked for her to hold hands. Ann refused. Karen told her daughter she had to hold hands to cross the street. Ann looked up at her mother clasped her own hands together and said, "I'll hold my own hands."

"That's when I said, 'This kid is going to be something,'" Tucker said.

A few years later, Tucker received a phone call from Ann's kindergarten teacher who wanted her to come in for a talk. When Karen arrived for the meeting wondering what her daughter might have done wrong, she was surprised to learn the teacher only wanted to inform Ann's parents that their daughter was already showing signs of superior athletic ability and understanding of games compared to her classmates.


"Ever since she was born," her mother said of Elliott's competitive spirit. "Nochallenge went unmet and there was nothing she couldn't do and she was going to do it by herself. She was very strong-willed and very competitive. She loves games and challenges."

Ann Elliott accepted, perhaps, her biggest challenge so far late last week when she decided to leave her position as associate head coach of the six-time national championship women's lacrosse program at Northwestern in order to start from scratch building a program in Boulder.

"Building a program from the ground up has always been a dream of mine," Elliott said after being introduced by, associate athletic director Julie Manning, chancellor Phil DiStefano and athletic director Mike Bohn.

Elliott said she was attracted to the Colorado job because it is a start-up but also because of the reputation of the school and the Boulder community and the quality of life it all could provide.

What she didn't mention in her press conference was the family tie to the school that also tugged at her heart when she first heard CU was joining the stampede to add a team in the fastest growing NCAA sport.

Elliott's older brother, Mike, attended CU and graduated with a degree in political science and economics in 2004. Ann never was able to visit her brother in Boulder while he was in college because she was so busy with her own endeavors as a goalie for a club ice hockey team that played for a national title one year as well as playing lacrosse.

Ann's parents say her brother would have been thrilled to see his little sister don black and gold in her new role Monday, but two years ago this April he died during a rock climbing accident.

"When I heard CU was starting a lacrosse program, there was definitely a part of me that thought that was something special and there was something that was meant for me to come out this way and try to see what this opportunity was all about," Ann Elliott said. "If I was fortunate enough to get the head coaching job, then it was meant to be and there was something special about it."

The little girl who grew up rooting for the Cleveland Browns and Cleveland Indians and the Detroit Red Wings isn't taking the easy way out either. Instead of resigning from Northwestern to settle into her new role in Boulder, she will begin building the Buffs this spring while also continuing in her role as associate head coach at Northwestern hoping for another national title, what would be her sixth.

Her mother and father, Mike, and step-father, Bob, all are obviously biased in their opinions. But they believe Colorado will be happy to have their daughter. They say she is tough but fair, determined and smart, driven and fun-loving. And she knows how to win.

"She was good at everything she did," her father Mike Elliott said. "Growing up, typical in a girl's world, she had to play with the boys. In baseball she played with the boys. They would bring the outfield in and she'd hit it over their heads. She was always a great athlete."

As she walks the hallways back at Northwestern in the coming weeks, her fellow coaches and staff members might hear her humming a tune. She is in the process of learning the CU fight song.

"I was told I wouldn't have to sing it today," Elliott joked Monday.

That moment brought the biggest laugh of the day, but everyone in the room was hoping they will hear Elliott and the players she brings to Boulder sing their tune plenty in the future.