Sept. 5, 2003
LOS ALAMITOS, Calif. - Team USA center Ellen Estes (Novato, CA/Stanford) is among the 18 finalists for the 2002 Sportswoman of the Year Award, handed out annually to one individual and one team athlete each year by the Women's Sports Foundation. Estes is one of nine finalists in the team athlete category. The list of 18 was selected from a pool of over 30 nominees.
Among those up for the award in the team category against Estes are USA softball's Natasha Watley and WNBA star Lisa Leslie. Golfer Annika Sorenstam and tennis familiar Serena Williams join swimmer Natalie Coughlin and figure skater Michelle Kwan as some of the top athletes in the individual category.
Already having helped Team USA to its first-ever World Championships gold medal in Spain, Estes went on to register six goals at the 2003 Pan American Games en route to another gold and early qualification for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.
Estes scored 13 goals in six games on her way to the top of the medals podium in Barcelona. The 13-goal tally was best among tournament centers with fewer than seven games played. The only center in the field of 16 teams to outscore Estes was Russian standout Olga Tourova, who netted 19 goals in seven matches. Seven of Estes' 13 goals came in the finals rounds of the tournament, showing her newfound and undeniable penchant for big-game play. Estes bested all competitors in goals scored out of the center position, with eight of her 13 scores coming from the trenches. She was among the tournament leaders in shooting percentage, hitting on 62% of her shots taken, but led all players in the same category at center (62%). Estes scored a tournament-best four goals in a 15-5 drubbing of France in preliminary play. The World Championships gold medal for Team USA was the only the second ever by a non-European team and the first-ever for the U.S. (men or women) at the senior level.
Estes, 24, was also at her best at the 2003 Kirishi Cup in Russia, taking home the tournament's top goal tally (10) despite nursing a broken right foot the entire time.
In 2002, Estes led her Stanford squad to the NCAA Championship, capturing 1st Team All-American and All-MPSF honors in the process. Later in the year, she helped Team USA to the silver medal at the 2002 FINA World Cup in Australia.
"She's matured physically and has become much stronger," said Baker. "She's tremendously quick for her position and I have no doubt that she was the best center in the entire tournament at World Championships."
In addition to her accolades in the pool, Estes recently completed her education at Stanford in fine fashion, walking the aisle with a degree in mechanical engineering. She is currently working an internship with Disney's Imagineering department in the Los Angeles area.
courtesy of USA Water Polo