Tennison earns Athena Award

By Eric Erickson,
Sports analysis

Como Park High School senior Ellery Tennison has enjoyed playing sports as long as she can remember.

From Langford Park and St. Anthony Park Elementary to Murray Middle School, club teams and her 10 varsity letters in three different sports at Como, she has excelled.

However, achieving excellence isn’t the main reason she loves competing. It’s the relationships created through athletic activity that brings her joy.

“Sports are my main way of connecting and interacting with other people,” Tennison said. “It’s my way of having fun and it’s taught me a lot of valuable life skills, like how to work hard.”

Having fun while working hard has been a successful formula for Tennison in her athletics and academics, leading to honors that now include the Athena Award.

The St. Paul Area Athena Awards recognize one female high school senior from each East Metro high school. Tennison and the other recipients were honored at the Athena Awards Banquet held downtown at the RiverCentre on April 17.

Tennison’s athletic resume as a Como Cougar reveals remarkable accomplishments and leadership in volleyball, basketball and track and field.

In volleyball, Tennison was named a team captain as a sophomore. She served as captain for three seasons, leading the Cougars to section finals in both her junior and senior years, and notching a conference championship in 2022. She was voted the team’s most valuable player and a two-time all-conference selection.

Beyond the fall volleyball seasons, Tennison had fun partnering with teammates to provide a summer camp volleyball experience for Murray players and youth in the neighborhood. She was a constant for the Cougars, keeping things together through a coaching change.

The 2021-2022 basketball season was historic for the Como girls, who took third place in the state tournament. Tennison was grateful to be a contributor on that team as a sophomore, celebrating the thrill of victory in the section championship and playing in state alongside the immensely talented seniors who realized their dream.

“Getting to play with that group of girls, I learned a ton from them,” Tennison said. “Especially being an underclassman and looking up to them.”

After that special experience, Tennison stepped away from basketball to devote more time toward strength training and preparation for her other sports, including track and field.

While not an easy decision, it was productive. Qualifying for state in the 100M hurdles as a junior was an impressive trade-off. Tennison’s track credentials are extensive, winning conference championships in the triple jump as well as the hurdles, while being Como’s MVP ever since her freshman season and being a three-year captain.

Working hard to reach one’s goals is a part of Tennison’s lifestyle DNA. It’s applicable to her academics too, resulting in stellar achievements. As evidence: Her status as an Advanced Placement Scholar (passing more than three AP exams), earning Academic All-State and graduating in the top 10 of her class.

Teachers admire and appreciate Tennison’s positive presence in class and her intelligent insight. Coaches love having talented players who are also models of commitment and effort.

One Como staff member who has witnessed Tennison thrive in multiple environments is Olonda England, who has coached her in basketball and track. “Ellery has been an outstanding student-athlete who has always been a hard worker and dedicated to her academics and any sport she puts her mind to,” England said. “Ellery has been amazing in her four years of track and field. She is destined to achieve the goals she sets for herself.”

Tennison plans to attend the University of Oregon next fall where she intends to major in business administration with a concentration in sports business. She sees a career in that field as a healthy way to continue making connections with people through activities that bring her joy.

“I’ve loved my teammates and sports at Como,” Tennison said. “We’ve learned about each other and our different lives while doing something we all enjoy together.” 

Eric Erickson is a social studies teacher at Como Park High School and a longtime coach of school and youth sports in St. Paul.

Photo cutline: Ellery Tennison is Como Park’s Athena Award winner for 2024. Photo by Greta Seppanen.

Leave a Reply