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Tim Ellsworth leaves the Spartans after 13 successful seasons

After 13 seasons, Tim Ellsworth decided that it was time.

On the heels of an eighth consecutive state playoff appearance, the longtime Hillsboro boys soccer coach resigned last week, drawing to a close a long and successful career with the Spartans. Having coached at the school since 2001, Ellsworth decided to make the 2013 season his last, in large part so that he can spend more time with his family.

“It was a lot of fun. It’s difficult to walk away, to say the least,” said Ellsworth, whose tenure at Hilhi started back in 2001. “But it’s the right decision, both for me personally and for the program, I think. I think it’s time for someone new to come in and make some changes and adjust, and maybe move them forward even more.

“And for me, it’s a great opportunity for me to step away and have the opportunity to watch both my daughters play the sports that they play and not be inhibited by missing things. So I’m excited from both aspects.”

With Ellsworth at the helm, the Spartans have enjoyed many seasons of success — perhaps capped by the Class 5A state championship season in 2006. That team went 17-1-1 on the way to the title in the inaugural year of six high school classifications.

But there were plenty of other highlights, including 5A quarterfinals appearances in 2007 and 2008. All told, the Spartans advanced to the state playoffs nine times during Ellsworth’s run, finishing in the top three in the league seven times.

Stepping away from the program has been on Ellsworth’s mind for some time. With older daughter Madison, who plays soccer and basketball, starting at Hilhi next fall, being available to watch her play is a priority.

“I want to watch her play, and it’s just not possible being a coach in that same sport in the same season,” Ellsworth noted. “It’s kind of been in the back of my mind, and my wife and I have talked about it for the last couple years.”

Given that his daughter will soon become a Spartan, Ellsworth will not become a stranger to the school, and he will still be involved in coaching first-grade daughter Braxtyn’s soccer team.

“I’ll get my coaching fix through her and have the opportunity to sit back and enjoy watching my other daughter play high school sports and spend more time just in general with the family,” he said. “It takes a lot out of you in the fall to be a coach and miss so much family time.”

Over the past eight seasons, Ellsworth has steered Hilhi to an impressive 89-32-17 record. He has also piloted the program through transitions between three different leagues and two classifications.

When Ellsworth started at the school, Hilhi belonged to the Metro League. The Spartans dropped down to 5A and the joined the Northwest Oregon Conference in 2006 before moving back up to Class 6A and becoming a member of the Pacific Conference in 2010.

Along the way, he has helped shape the lives of dozens of young men, including Abran Serrano Garcia, this year’s Pacific Conference co-most valuable player.

“He’s taught me how to be disciplined,” Serrano Garcia said. “He’s always just checking up on me ... even offseason, he’s asking me how I’m doing in school, and if I need any help, he’s there to help me. He’s just always there looking out for me, and I really appreciate it.”

Ellsworth’s resignation also brings to an end a lengthy and collegial rivalry with Glencoe coach Tom Stephens, who started at Glencoe in 2002, the year after Ellsworth took over at Hilhi. Over the ensuing years, the two men remained coaching adversaries but became good friends.

“Slowly but surely over the years, we became friends and now we’re good friends,” Stephens said. “I’m definitely going to miss him. He’s a great guy, and it was always fun to know that we were going to play each other and the next day email each other and talk about life and talk about soccer.”

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