Editor's Note: '15 Things You Might Not Know About Me' is part of DrydenWire’s 2020 election coverage. Each Thursday, we will feature a different candidate for this segment to publish. That candidate will also appear as our guest on Meet The Candidate, a special edition of DrydenWire Live! the following morning (Friday) at 8:30a on our Facebook page.
This week on '15 Things You Might Not Know About Me', we are featuring John Ellenson. On May 11, 2020, John announced his candidacy for the 75th Assembly District and is running as a democrat.
15 Things You Might Not Know About Me: John Ellenson
How I met Holly
1 - I first saw her while coaching at a basketball camp and I knew I wanted to marry her at first sight. Our first date was pizza and watching an NBA playoff game, just the two of us. Thirty days later I asked her to marry me, 30 days after that we were married. It's been 27 years, we have four children Wally, Ellwood, Henry and Ella and it's been a lot of fun and excitement. I love her!
2 - My entire childhood was spent at the Episcopal Church’s Retreat called Bundy Hall in Menomonie Wisconsin. My parent’s were the caretakers of the grounds. Each summer kids from all over Wisconsin came to church camp to study and learn to be good christians. The Fall, Winter and Spring were filled with weekends of worship. It was a great place to grow up and I was surrounded with many, many kind people. Cherish good memories.
Lesson From my Dad
3 - I remember as a very young boy sitting next to my father and listening to a wonderful sermon. After church I said to my dad what a great sermon that was and I will never forget what he said "Words are important however the actions of a person let you see who they truly are. Look to see what they have done and let them show you who they really are." I live by those words today. When a person shows you who they are, believe it.
4 - I stayed at home with my children when they were infants and toddlers and ran a hockey rink at night after my wife came home from work. That is where I learned to make ice and drive a Zamboni. One time I had to go in early so I tucked my 9 month old Ella in my jacket and kept my eye on the boys in the booth as they sang on the loudspeakers. Ella smiled at me as we made our laps on the ice. The kids remind me of this moment from time to time. You never know when you’ll make a lasting memory in your children's mind, so know that every moment counts.
Professional in France
5 - After playing for the Wisconsin Badgers I went to Europe to play Professional Basketball. I ended up in Dijon, France, a large city with a lot to explore. One day as I went to explore I found myself in a jam. I took my bike and ended up in a five lane round-about during rush hour. I was terrified as the cars ripped all around me. I bought a bell and a helmet the very next day and have used them ever since. Safety never takes a break.
6 - While in France as a young man there were many instances where the older women and men of France took care of me. Maybe it was a meal or an adventure to a museum or to the city park. I vowed to make sure I always took care of young people when I had the chance. During Covid, because universities closed, I had a young woman from Eau Claire, a young man from California, and a young man from Australia for nearly 50 days and my three 20 year olds. I wanted their parents to know that they were safe and well taken care of. We had a great time, I will cherish the memories. Have money saved up for incredibly high food bills and enjoy every minute of it.
7 - Tomorrow is my Birthday, 8-28-68. Two things I like about my birthday is on this date in 1963 Martin Luther King Jr. gave his historic speech, "I have a dream." It is also my favorite bible verse, John 8:28. Then said Jesus unto them, "When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing myself; but as my father hath taught me, I speak these things." Being a teacher gives me purpose and guidance.
Boys and Girls Club
8 - My family does a free basketball camp at the start of summer for the Boys and Girls Club in Rice Lake. We are able to get students shirts and bags and water bottles and skills in basketball. Seeing the smile on their faces is a blast. Watching all four of my children who played college basketball encourage and coach the boys and girls makes me proud. Giving is better than getting.
9 - During my teenage years at Bundy Hall I would paint the buildings at camp. One summer I was painting the church, I was on a forty foot ladder on the top rung holding onto the roof with my left hand and in my right hand I had a broom stick connected to a roller painting the cross. My mom comes along and says, "Make it quick and get down, we don’t want you seeing Jesus quite yet." Listen to your mom.
A New Word
10 - As an elementary student there was a new idea, it was called recycling. I remember collecting cans wherever they laid. I would collect along lakes and rivers, the railroad tracks, and sometimes in the woods. Recycling has stuck with my family ever since. As a teacher I know the impact we have on kids and everyday. It is my duty to be an appropriate, respectful, kind and caring person and to teach them more than just academics but lifelong skills. Always know that kids are listening and learning, and do what's right, you may just change them for life.
11 - At the NBA draft in 2016 when our son Henry was drafted, our driver drove us around Manhattan in jam packed traffic. He was an amazing driver and a kind man. He said to us, "Be kind to everyone, you never know who you will meet." He was an immigrant from Puerto Rico and owned a very successful car service. When he was young he took a man around Manhattan, the man appreciated his driving and conversation. Whenever he came to town, he would ask him to drive. Then this man began to tell his friends about this driver and his kindness and skill. Soon our driver was driving for famous stars that came to New York City from all over the world. His business took off, he worked hard for the American Dream and succeeded. Work hard and be kind to everyone.
12 - At church camp we would have dances and that is where I learned to dance as a child. I enjoy dancing to this day. When I was home with my kids when they were young, after lunch we would dance. Four kids in our living room having fun dancing. They enjoy dancing today and they are great dancers and love it. Never let a day pass without dancing.
2 Gold medals
13 - I was stuck, I didn’t know what to do, so I called a friend. He came over late at night and was able to change the brakes on our car which allowed me to drive to the track meet the next morning with our son Wally. The next day we drove and he jumped at the USA qualifying meet at Drake University for Team USA. He qualified and was ready to represent America at the PanAmerican games in Columbia. Wally ended up winning the Gold Medal for Team USA in the high jump. Later in life our family had made friends with a young coach. Not much later he saw our son Henry play basketball, he knew right away Henry would be great for Team USA. He had coached in Colorado Springs for Team USA Basketball and told the staff about Henry. Henry got an invitation and made the team. The team would travel to Dubai and play teams from around the world. They ended up winning the World Championship for America. Be grateful for friends, and be a friend that others are grateful for.
14 - I read books about war mostly, it's something my father turned me onto when I was young, My first book was Flying Aces of World War I and I still have it, it's a bit tattered and yellow now. The last book I read was Hell in the Pacific, a Rifleman's Journey from Guadicanal to Peleliu. To fight for what is right, to protect women and children and to stop the spread of hate and racism, there is no greater honor. It’s possibly the best book I’ve ever read. I gave it to my father to read. Share your love and passions, they may grow in others.
15 - I married into a hockey family. My wife's dad played at the University of Minnesota Duluth and then went on to win two National Championships, one at UW-Superior and the other at UW-Eau Claire. My brother-in-law played at UW-Madison and was drafted into the NHL. My Oldest nephew won a state championship, my second oldest I watched score 5 goals in a junior hockey league game. My youngest nephew has been scouted by professional scouts. Finally my niece was the Wisconsin High School Player of the Year and is now a Division One player at Minnesota State Mankato. Hard work runs in families and hard work pays off.