Co-Captain Ellis Denby ’24 Inspires Boys Soccer with His Sociability and Offensive Production

Co-Captain Ellis Denby ’24’s love for soccer was first sparked at five years old, when he his older brothers play in the yard and on the field. Ever since, he has continued to excel at the sport. According to Denby, his favorite aspect of the game is the freedom of playing and the opportunities to connect with others.  

“I would say [my favorite aspect is] probably just when you’re on the field and sort of everything else doesn’t really matter and you can just be yourself and you don’t have to worry about anything. But also, you get to just spend time with your friends and it’s a really good way to bond with other people and connect with people from all over,” said Denby.

According to Denby, he strives to achieve an effective balance between being both a supportive friend and constructive leader on the team. 

“I would say that I like to lead by example and sort of my conduct on the field and off the field. I like to think that I work really hard to set an example for the younger players on the team. And also, off the field, just being a friendly guy, being a nice guy, and sort of being the example that you should be inclusive to everyone and treat people with respect. Be friendly and on the field, holding people accountable while still being a nice guy and getting the best out of everyone,”

Both a challenger on the field and a team player, Denby has found a way to balance encouraging his team while consistently helping them grow, according to Co-Captain Zane Matraji ’24.

“Ellis, as a captain, leads by example. I think that he has this mentality that I’ve never really seen before. And he’s able to push others in a very positive way while also demanding a lot from us,” said Matraji. 

Denby enjoys all aspects of the game, from conversing with teammates to producing on offense. According to Denby, he strives to create a close-knit team environment with his amiable personality. 

“I like involving everyone else. I like scoring a lot but I also love assisting and getting other people involved. So I think as a player, I’m someone that takes the game in the middle of the field and gets people involved and makes things happen on the attack while also trying to defend the best that I can. And then as a person I think I’m a friendly guy, a lot of my friends, my best friend, are the kids on my team so it’s sort of just trying to create a good bond the past couple years. But then also there’s not a single player on the team that I’m not friendly or friends with or I can’t have a conversation with, so I think it just shows who I am as a person. I like to talk to people, I like to be friendly and get to know people. I would describe myself as a social person,” 

Oliver Buckhoff ’24 highlighted Denby’s attributes as a soccer player and a person. Having played soccer with Denby since childhood, Buckhoff noted Denby’s example-based leadership style.

“I appreciate Ellis’s leadership both on and off the pitch and I think on the pitch he leads by example. He’s always doing the right thing, he has the right ideas, and he’s encouraging us to do the right things as well. And off the pitch he’s just a genuinely nice guy. He’s just a pleasure to be around, he creates a cohesive team chemistry,” said Buckhoff 

Younger players, such as Paul Gichana ’25, have expressed admiration for Denby as well. Gichana explained that he looks up to Denby as a primary scorer. 

Gichana said, “He scores a lot of goals for us and gets a lot of great assists for our team. When he scores, it’s just a really good moment for the team, especially for myself because it encourages me to help the team as well.”