Porter Ellett – Coaches Football with One Arm
His Dream of coaching football caused him to take a much different path in life than he originally intended to take. In this episode of American Dreams, Porter Ellett shares his story of how he came to coach the Kansas City Chiefs. Listen to his inspirational story as he shares how individuals influenced the path which ultimately shaped his legacy.
Transcript of Porter Ellett – Coaches Football with One Arm:
Alan Olsen: Hi, this is Alan Olsen and welcome to American Dreams. I’m visiting here today with Porter Ellett, welcome to today’s show.
Porter Ellett: Thanks. It’s good to be here. I’m glad you invited me to be on the show. Hopefully we can do some good things.
Alan Olsen: So Porter, before we get into your path of how you came to join the Kansas City Chiefs coaching staff, can you give us an update on your your path in life and where you went to school and how you ended up in the Kansas area?
Porter Ellett: Yeah, for sure. I ended up here, actually through Coach Reid in Kansas City Chiefs, but we were at Baylor University, Waco, Texas. I was attending grad school there, studying sports management, and then working in the facilities at the football stadium, McLean stadium, as I was studying. That is how I ended up here. Coach Reid called me; took the job; came to Kansas City.
Alan Olsen: That is a big move coming from Baylor, Texas up here. Did you grow up in Texas or Kansas or?
Porter Ellett: I grew up on a farm in central Utah, really small town called Loa, Utah. About 400 people, (I think, on Wikipedia or something, it says 500) but I don’t know, not very many people. Then after I went high school and did everything there, I went to BYU for graduate school, or sorry for college. But before I started, I served two year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Went to BYU; studied economics; ended up my very last semester at BYU, I had one credit hour or two credit hours, I need to finish in economics. And I ended up failing the class, I had to go back for a whole nother semester. But I needed to find a job. So I ended up working for the football team. And that is when I fell in love with football, ended up realizing that I wanted to work in football. And so after I graduated, I worked at Goldman Sachs. For almost a year, I worked in their tax department as a tax analyst. And I came home from work every day, and was working a lot of hours. And then I was commuting from Provo to Salt Lake City. So I was a lot of work. And my wife one time, one night, she asked me if I really loved what I was doing. And I at first I said, Yeah, I love what I do, it provides a good living for me, and it will support our family and we will be okay. I like the people I work with. I kind of went through the whole list and she said, but do you love what you are doing? I said, no, like, I don’t really love taxes. So I kind of went through that with her. And she said, Well, what would you do if you could do anything? I said, well, I think I would coach. If I could coach, I would go back and do that. But I grew up in a family where my dad coached me in high school baseball, basketball, coaching, all grown up. And I knew that there wasn’t any money in coaching. So I kind of told her that said there is no money in it. And she said, well, there is right if you do it in college, or you do it professionally. I said, Yeah, but I, don’t know how you go about doing that. And she said, Well, let’s figure it out. So I started to do some research on my own. I was going to go to grad school to be a coach or to be like a GM personnel type of person, work the business side and more. And she said, Okay, well, let’s do it. So we ended up at grad school, studying sports management at Baylor. I kind of left everything; left my job at Goldman Sachs moved to Texas to pursue this kind of this pie in the sky dream. But I wanted to coach. That’s how I ended up you know, doing this.
Alan Olsen: Now you mentioned you did that baseball and football you were active in all the sports during high school?
Porter Ellett: Yeah, well, kind of a funny story. My high school was so small that we didn’t have football. We played fall baseball, because the weather in you know higher elevation, Utah. The fall is way better weather for baseball with high school baseball seasons the way they are in the spring, we would have had snow clear until It was playoff time, pretty much. So we played fall baseball and we didn’t have enough kids to support baseball and football in the fall. So we didn’t even have a football team. But I did play baseball, I did play basketball, I ran track and cross country. And I played football on my own; played catch. I had schools that were a little bigger in the area. They tried to get me to come play football, but I wasn’t willing to travel, and then also give up baseball with all my teammates. So I just stayed and played baseball. I didn’t play football. Coached baseball; coached basketball after high school as well.
Alan Olsen: That’s interesting that you didn’t play the sport, but you ended up in the sport for coaching. What is it like being part of a professional team coaching staff?
Porter Ellett: You learn a lot every day from the good people that are around you. But you also learn very quickly that people don’t (players and coaches) care about your background. I haven’t ever really had a player, say like, Well, you didn’t play so you don’t know, you know, that they really care about if you can make them better. Which is, you know, refreshing to me, because they’re not gonna judge me on Oh, man, he didn’t even play in high school. Because to them, that doesn’t matter. What does matter is, can you make me a better player today, and then also being surrounded by the coaches that I have been surrounded by? That’s been a huge blessing, because they have taught me how to coach what’s important, what isn’t important, what to focus on? What works? What doesn’t? So that’s been a huge blessing for me.
Alan Olsen: There is a reputation with Kansas City is that they have an excellent coaching staff. And the result is the team has performed very well. How do you get the players as acting as a team? Everyone there on the team is good. They are in the pro leagues, but how do you get them to act as a team?
Porter Ellett: Well, I think personally, with with us, it is amazing the leadership that we have, as far as players go, as well. We have great coaches that do a great job, but also the players take it to heart. And they are not entitled, they work hard. Our star players show up and they want to win. They care about winning, they care about doing things the right way. Not only that, but they set the tone for all the younger guys, and all the guys that are role players. And that is huge, especially in football. That is actually why I told Carly when she asked me what sport I wanted to coach her work in, I said football because of the team aspect. Basketball you can get away with one or two stars. And then, you know, everybody else can be whatever. And then they can have the ball 95% of the time. Baseball, it’s pitching, you know, one or two hitters really, they get the job done. Football’s not that way. Like everybody has to do their job, or it’s it does, or it doesn’t work out. So for our our vets, and our star players, their understanding of that, that the younger guys, the role players, they matter. That is huge for us. And so I would say at the team, the unity we have as a team is a culture set by our leaders, players and coaches alike. And Coach Reid is at the head of all of it, and he sets the tone for everybody. Like, the things that matter matter.
Alan Olsen: You know, they say behind every great man is an even greater woman. Yeah. Can you tell us about how you met Carly?
Porter Ellett: Yeah! I would love to. So BYU, I got home from serving my two year mission. And when you get home and you are from a small area, they have to go back to church and talk it all the congregations. So I actually didn’t go to our congregation at BYU until I had been home for almost a month and a half. So I went from church to church and talked. And then she was at school, and I was in her same congregation, but she didn’t know. And while she was there, she would go visit her grandparents who live close on Sundays, and they would watch SportsCenter and watch sports and hang out. And one night her grandpa, he went downstairs in their basement, he found this old magazine of me in high school. So 2008, 2007 they did an article on me because I played baseball with one hand. So they did this story. And he went down and found the magazine and brought it up to her and was like, Hey, you should read this article. So she kind of took a quick look at it. She’s like, Yeah, seems cool and He was like, well, he’s gonna go to BYU. So you should look him up. Or he’s at BYU right now you should look him up. And she just kind of laughed. It’s like, there’s 32,000 undergrads at BYU. I can’t look up this guy. How would I do that grandpa, just Google one arm guy at BYU. He was like, Well, I don’t know. But maybe, you know, look him up, see if you could go on a date with him. And he knew about me, partly because he worked with my aunt. So they kind of set us up a little bit. But she had was like, well, whatever, I’ll never meet this guy. And one of the Sundays when I was finally back for church, at our own congregation at BYU, I knocked on our door, collecting money for the church, you know, tithes, fast offerings, tithings from members of the church. And she recognized me and she said, Are you the guy from the magazine. And I was like, yeah, and she just kind of laughed, and in her head, she’s like, my grandpa’s never gonna believe this. So we started dating, our first like, four or five dates were sporting events. So she loves sports, she encouraged me to pursue a career in sports. And to be honest, she takes the wins and losses, like as personal or more personal than I do. So she is invested, and she loves it. And I’m grateful for her. And I mean, without her, just like I talked about earlier, I would still probably be working in taxes. So at Goldman Sachs, which is a great job. But it’s not where my passion was,
Alan Olsen: Porter, you have overcome a lot in life. And the fact that you reach a pinnacle of being with a very successful organization, as a coach, is a great statement. If you got give a message to people today that as they are going to the pandemic, or their struggles in life, what would it be? How would you coach? That individual?
Porter Ellett: That’s a good question. I thought about this a lot, kind of recently because we all face challenges, even within my own family, I have, a little girl and a son two and four. And they have their own little challenges that they face as well, my wife. But I think that the best thing that you can do, is just keep moving forward. Just keep waking up in the morning and keep doing the things that you do. Set a routine; set a set goals for yourself; and just get up and do those things. And I think you will be shocked by the sense of fulfillment that you have, and the amount of power and strength that that gives you. And I think that far too often in the world today, we’re allowed to, I don’t rely on excuses, more than just relying on our own persistence and our own ability to overcome things. And for me, the last couple years, COVID has given a lot of people a great excuse, you know, not to get out of bed in the morning not to pursue your goals not to work through a challenge, which is hard. The pandemic has been hard on everyone, and it’s changed the way that we’ve lived and the way that we have had to do things. But I think that would be the advice I would offer is just keep moving forward, keep progressing in your own ways. Get up in the morning; get out of bed; work out; do your routine, and set your routine, and just continue to work and push. And through my whole life, that is kind of been what has pushed me through challenges that I have faced I just keep progressing and keep pushing forward. And you’ll be surprised. I think the joy and happiness you receive from that sense of fulfillment. I did what I set out to do today. That’s big.
Alan Olsen: Great advice! When everything is said and done, Porter, when you look back at life, what do you want to be known for?
I just think I would like to have a positive impact on the world in general. I would like to be known as a good coach should good all that stuff. A good father, a good husband, a good member of my church, my community. But I think just having a positive impact on those that I left behind, because that is what really carries on is did you do good while you were here, and did you leave something good for other people to see and build on? It is funny because Coach Reid that is what he is essentially.He does a lot of winning. He does a lot of that. But he also sets a path for coaches to follow. He has like a great group of coaches that have come from his staffs and that are on his current staffs and great players that love him and adore him. But he sees the value in my legacy is what I leave behind. It is not what I’m doing in this moment. But in order to leave a legacy behind, you have to handle the moment that you’re in. So, I’d like to also, you know, do that do great now. And then also leave something great for the generation that comes after me.
Alan Olsen: Beautiful! I have been visiting here today with Porter Ellett at the Kansas City Chiefs. Porter, thanks for being with us today.
Porter Ellett: Thanks for having me on. It’s been an honor.
To receive our free newsletter, contact us here.
Subscribe our YouTube Channel for more updates.
This transcript was generated by software and may not accurately reflect exactly what was said.
Alan Olsen, is the Host of the American Dreams Show and the Managing Partner of GROCO.com. GROCO is a premier family office and tax advisory firm located in the San Francisco Bay area serving clients all over the world.
Alan L. Olsen, CPA, Wikipedia Bio