Park tri-sport senior named All-American Athlete

Aaron Ellingson recognized for academics, athleticism, leadership


Sadie Yarosh

Senior Aaron Ellingson passes the ball in a game Dec. 10 against Henry Sibley. Ellingson was named one of 28 recipients of the All-American Award.

Maggie Klaers

When strength and conditioning coach Jessica Gust heard about the “All-American Athlete,” a relatively new award from the National High School Strength Coaches Association, she introduced it to senior Aaron Ellingson.

Ellingson said he filled out the application, which included some essay questions about leadership, letters of recommendation from coaches and agility and weight lifting requirements. A few weeks later, it was announced he was one of the 28 male recipients, according to an announcement from the NHSSCA. 

“It was just an honor, and I’m very thankful to have been one of the recipients of it. I think it shows a lot of the program that (Gust has) built at high school, and just her dedication and hard work that she puts into athletes,” Ellingson said.

According to the National High School Strength Coaches Association (NHSSCA), the All-American Athlete award is given to high school students who have “demonstrated outstanding achievement on and off the field in regards to strength and conditioning, athletic performance, academics and leadership.”

Gust has been coaching Ellingson since he began the strength and conditioning program in middle school. Since then he has become captain of the varsity football, basketball and baseball teams.

(Ellingson) leads by example, he leads verbally, he leads physically, he leads by modeling good choices.

— Jessica Gust

“He’s a super unique kid. To say he’s a hard worker is an understatement. I don’t know how else to emphasize that he just is an insanely hard worker. He is really willing to sacrifice lots of other things to do what he knows he needs to do to achieve his goals,” Gust said. “He is uniquely motivated toward his goals, and he really has a clear vision of what he wants to achieve.”

Ellingson, as the captain of three teams at Park, has many leadership roles. Gust says this aptitude for leadership is evident and will serve him well in his future.

“(Ellingson) leads by example, he leads verbally, he leads physically, he leads by modeling good choices. Those skills that he’s practiced are going to be huge when it comes to not only college … But after that, those leadership skills are so important for just being able to make good decisions in your life as an adult,” Gust said. “Ultimately, he’s going to become an insanely good contributor to society because he just really has practiced being a good human.”

As Ellingson reflected on his time as an athlete at Park, he said the connections he has formed will follow him beyond high school.

“The relationships that I’ve built with different coaches and teammates, I think I’ve met a lot of lifelong friends throughout this whole journey,” Ellingson said. “It’s sad that it’s all coming to a close here, as I’m a senior, but just good memories that I’ve made throughout the years. I’m very, very happy to have made them.”

Ellingston is Park’s first athlete to receive this award and Gust said she believes it will serve as an inspiration to others who step into the weight room.

“To be able to just put (the certificate) up in the weight room and have that even after he’s gone to be able to reference that and say, ‘here’s a kid who was a great leader, you can do this too,’” Gust said. “Hopefully it will motivate lots of other kids to work toward meeting those standards, because ultimately, working toward meeting those standards is just going to make kids better athletes and better contributors to their team. It’s good for all of us that we have kids that are trying to achieve those goals.”

This fall, Ellingson will continue his academic and athletic career playing football at Bethel University.