University of Northern Iowa
- Management: Information Systems
Ellie Blankenship was named to the Missouri Valley Conference Honor Roll in 2009 and holds a cumulative grade point average of 3.01 while majoring in management: information systems. Blankenship is also a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, working as a leader to plan and host activities while also holding bi-weekly meetings with group leaders to facilitate planning of activities. In addition to this, she is also a member of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) at UNI and serves as a representative for the volleyball team. In conjunction with SAAC, Blankenship worked on a committee to organize the annual Junior Panther Day hosted for young, aspiring athletes interested in meeting the Panther athletes. She is also a member of MISA (Management Information Systems Association), which is a club at UNI for management: information systems majors. The club works to bring speakers to campus as well as discuss current issues relating to the major.
UNI head coach Bobbi Petersen speaks very highly of Blankenship saying, “Ellie has been an exemplary student-athlete at the University of Northern Iowa. In my many years of coaching, I have not had a more gifted student-athlete who has so much to give her team, her university and her community. Ellie was a walk-on student athlete and because of her gifts as an athlete, she found her way onto the court her freshman year as our starting libero. Her talents and her extreme desire and passion to compete have made her one of the best liberos in the country. She not only gets it done on the court, but she is a tremendous student in an extremely competitive business program at UNI. Ellie is an incredible leader shown by the fact she has gained the respect of her teammates and coaches by being named a team captain for two consecutive years. Ellie is heavily involved in the community and has also done various world-wide projects. I feel extremely fortunate to not only coach a student-athlete like Ellie, but to also have such a special person and example a part of my life.”
Blankenship is active in her local community, volunteering at the humane society, Lutheran home, Relay for Life, and the local food bank on a regular basis. During the floods of 2008, she helped sandbag in the city of Cedar Falls in an effort to protect area homes and business from rising flood waters. Later, Blankenship helped beautify the city of Cedar Falls by helping plant trees as a part of the plan to restore the damages done during the flooding and destructive storms. She also helped at the local hospital appreciation breakfast as well as volunteering at the Little Panther Club outings. Finally, Blankenship has participated in the NCAA’s Just Read! Program, visiting local elementary schools to emphasize the importance of reading.
Blankenship has displayed her tremendous character in a number of ways, showing her deep care for others by traveling with her church, Prairie Lakes, to the village of Kwambekenya, Kenya, to help the village members with everyday activities and a few bigger projects over spring break. Also, through Friends of Jaclyn Foundation, she adopted a little girl - along with the rest of the UNI volleyball team - who is currently battling a brain tumor. Blankenship and the rest of the team continually visit and take her to various activities throughout the year, including sending her weekly gifts as she battles through her fight with cancer.
During her senior season Blankenship became the eighth player in Division I history to record over 2,500 career digs and currently ranks second among active players for career digs. She earned Most Valuable Player honors at the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament as well as being named Missouri Valley Conference Libero of the Year. Blankenship was selected as one of 24 collegiate athletes by USA Volleyball to participate in the U.S. Women’s National A2 program, later helping her team take bronze at the USA Volleyball Open Championships. In 2009, she earned American Volleyball Coaches Association All-America honorable mention honors. Blankenship currently owns the Missouri Valley Conference record for career digs and individual digs in a season. She also holds the UNI record for career digs, digs per set in a career and digs per set in a season. Blankenship was named MVC Defensive Player of the Week three times during her junior season and twice during her sophomore campaign and once so far during the 2010 season. She has posted double-digit digs in 100 of the 101 matches played entering her senior season. In 2009, Blankenship re-set the record for digs in a season with 698 while averaging 5.82 digs per set. She led the Valley in digs while also ranking fourth in service aces (38). Blankenship earned all-conference honors in each of her seasons with the Panthers, being named to the MVC All-Freshman team her first season, second-team All-MVC her sophomore campaign and MVC first-team as well as MVC all-tournament team her junior season.