MIAMI – The number of baseball, football, basketball, softball, volleyball and soccer games, and boxing matches Miami News-Record's Sports Editor and Writer Jim Ellis has covered in his 40 years of reporting is staggering. Ellis' love of sports, the community, and his dedication are even more impressive.
The Miami City Council made a special surprise presentation to Ellis at this week's meeting to honor the longtime sports reporter who has covered the county's high schools, NEO A&M College, and local sports for decades.
Ellis was lured to the meeting under the false impression that he was filling in to take a photo for another reporter, but the council surprised Ellis instead with a Mayoral Proclamation.
“We've got something we'd like to present you. We told you we had a surprise on the agenda,” Mayor Rudy Schultz said. “You're it!”
Ellis' daughter Brittany, sister Heather Fitzgibbon, brother-in-law and niece and nephew, friends and co-workers converged into the meeting room from hiding, and all stood and gave Ellis a standing ovation of applause.
The proclamation, read by Ellis' niece, Holly Anderson, and signed by Schultz proclaimed Nov. 7, 2017 as 'Jim Ellis Day' in Miami honoring him as a distinguished citizen deserving of recognition by making significant contributions in the community.
Ellis has spent many hours and late nights writing articles, and many miles traveling to games since his start with the Miami News-Record covering sports in 1977.
Before working for the Miami News-Record, Ellis covered sports for the Sequoyah County Times from 1975 to 1977 after graduating from Miami High School in 1971, Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College in 1973, and Northeastern State University in 1977.
He was inducted into the Oklahoma Eight-Man High School Football Hall of Fame in 2011 and is a member of the Oklahoma Press Association Quarter Century Club.
Ellis was member of the organizing committee of the Oklahoma 8-Man Football Coaches Association All-Star Game held in Miami.
Ellis runs the sports department, with the assistance of Monty Franks, covering eight high schools plus NEO A&M and also assists with feature and news coverage.
In 2012 Ellis was inducted into the Oklahoma Press Association's Hall of Fame.
“Hey guys, I really want to thank you for this honor,” Ellis said obviously moved by the gesture. “This just blows me away. Miami's home, it's always been home. As they say, 'Once a Wardog, always a Wardog.' As my Twitter says, I bleed blue because of both Miami High School and NEO, so hey, I really want to thank you for this. And you guys got me!”
Ellis then shook each council member’s hand thanking him or her individually.
“Jim, we appreciate you. You mean a lot to Miami and nobody does it better than you,” Councilman Neal Johnson said. “Your shoes can't be filled.”
Many generations of Miami and the Ottawa County area's athletes, coaches, supporters and spectators have been interviewed, photographed, or been written about by Ellis or read Ellis' work. He has stood the test of time in his position with the Miami News-Record through many changes.
“Jim Ellis is one of the very best sports writers I have ever met. He always gets the stories right. A true Hall of Famer and I'm proud to say a great personal friend of mine. Thank you, Jim, for all you have given to our community. You are the best,” Miami's own MHS graduate and Heisman Trophy winner Steve Owens said in tribute.
“I’ve sat side by side with Jim for years in the newsroom. He’s an amazing and loving father to Brit, and an extraordinarily dedicated husband to his late wife Mary, one of the hardest working sports reporters and men I have ever seen, and he is a truly good man and my friend,” MNR’s Associate Editor Melinda Stotts said. “ Well deserved honor. ”
"Jim was the first person I met at the News-Record when I was onboarded last year and has continued to be both an incredible colleague and inspiration," said Miami News-Record's Managing Editor Dorothy Ballard. "He is the heart of this place and Ottawa County sports, and the whole community has been made better because of it."
“Every business is not fortunate enough to have a person like Jim on their staff,” Miami News Record’s Region Publisher Cheryl Franklin said. “Although technology has changed drastically, especially in recent years, Jim was the first one to embrace all of the new ways available to reach our readers. In my opinion, he is the best sports guy in the four-state area, he loves what he does, and everyone knows it. Not only that, he is just an all-around great guy. I'm honored to call him friend.”
Melinda Stotts is the associate editor of the Miami News-Record. She can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or followed on Twitter @MelindaStotts1.