Determination and domination: Whitney Ellenor on her Laurier career and induction into the Hall of Fame

Photo by Darien Funk

Whitney Ellenor was one of the most dominant women’s basketball players in the program’s history. Through three seasons with the Laurier Golden Hawks, Ellenor displayed the utmost amount of confidence on and off the court. She will now be awarded with distinction in the Laurier Hall of Fame. 

“I was completely shocked, surprised, and obviously super excited,” Ellenor said about receiving the news of her induction. 

“I’m so honoured to be included in this group of athletes and coaches,” she continued. 

In only three seasons with Laurier — from 2012 to 2015 — Ellenor put together an impressive resume. An OUA First Team all-star and Second Team All-Canadian in the CIS, Ellenor led the Golden Hawks to a place at the national championship tournament in 2014. The following year, she was the team MVP on Laurier’s team of the year after spearheading a 17-3 women’s basketball season in 2014-15. 

“A very well-deserved recognition for Whitney. She had a huge impact on our program,” Coach Paul Falco said. 

“I didn’t think that it was something that I was going to get, just because I only played at Laurier for three years,” Ellenor said. 

In those three years, the 6’3 center, Ellenor displayed her talent, dedication and competitiveness on the court. More than that, Ellenor was an extraordinary leader. As team captain, she displayed her large personality and leadership skills while developing a strong bond with her purple and gold teammates.

Ellenor’s friend and teammate, Nicole Harrison, inducted the basketball star into the prestigious hall of fame class. The two have remained close after graduating from Laurier, while Ellenor credits Harrison as a “huge part of her career and time at Laurier.” 

Ellenor had received the special call from director of athletics and recreation, Peter Baxter, on her 30th birthday. While not having spoken to Baxter in years and initially missing the call, Ellenor was thrown off guard. However, she was incredibly honoured by the moment. 

She joins the distinguished 2021 Hall of fame class with five other Golden Hawk athletes. This class includes a legendary men’s hockey coach and the memorable 2004 Yates Cup football team. 

The Pickering native joined Laurier for the 2012-13 season and played in 60 regular season and playoff games for the Golden Hawks. She quickly became an instrumental part of Coach Falco’s team. In her second year, Laurier was able to win the OUA bronze medal after a victory over Carleton on a game-high 21 points by Ellenor.  She was a pivotal piece of the team which earned a spot at the national championship tournament in Windsor. 

In her final season at Laurier, Ellenor was a dominant force in the post. Averaging over two blocks with nearly 16 points and nine rebounds per game that regular season, the team went through their 20-game schedule with only three losses. During this period, Ellenor was one of the top players in the country. 

In her 52-career regular-season games, Ellenor scored over 600 points and grabbed well over 300 rebounds. This was just shy of 100 blocks. She recorded 12 double-doubles with the team while averaging 12.1 points, 6.4 rebounds and two blocks per game in her career. 

“She became a dominant post player in USPORTS,” Falco said. 

After high school, Ellenor went to Canisius College in Buffalo, New York. While here, she played two seasons of NCAA basketball. She used this time as a learning experience. Canisius and the extreme focus on sport was not what Ellenor was looking for. 

“I learned a lot from my time in the states. I learned what I was looking for in a school and an athletic program and what I wasn’t looking for,” Ellenor said. 

After exploring her options at a variety of schools across Ontario and Canada, Ellenor decided on Laurier. She made this decision due to the university’s size, proximity and focus on academic studies. This is something that was not nearly as valued in American university sports. ,

“It seemed as if she had lost her love for the game. But that love was quickly re-found,” Coach Falco said.  

More than that, Ellenor felt welcomed at  Laurier and credits her teammates and coaches for  her achievements within the program. 

“My teammates and Coach Falco, I owe all of my success to them… I really would not have been where I was, without them,” Ellenor said. 

“Coach Falco was great from a coach perspective and from a mentor perspective, he’s been amazing,” she continued. 

Both Ellenor and Coach Falco have remained close since her graduation and have an incredible level of respect towards each other. 

“He is someone who really wants his athletes to succeed. Coach [Falco] cares about them, both in sport and outside of sport,” Ellenor said of Coach Falco, who was a key part of her decision to play basketball at Laurier. 

“I think Whitney would tell you she grew a lot as a player and person during her time here at Laurier,” the long-time women’s basketball boss said while congratulating her on the honour. 

In terms of a favourite memory with the purple and gold, Ellenor would point to the OUA bronze medal win. 

“It was an accumulation of how hard we worked that year,” Ellenor said, speaking on how special the moment was, especially for the seniors who were graduating and that she had developed a relationship with. 

Ellenor relied on perseverance and dedication throughout her stellar three-year Golden Hawk career. With her dominance on the court and leadership skills as team captain, Ellenor can now call herself a Laurier hall of famer as she rightfully should.

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