Former head U.S. Women’s National Team soccer coach Jill Ellis is joining the Topps Company’s Board of Directors, it announced on Oct. 14.
Ellis, who won back-to-back FIFA Women’s World Cup titles in 2015 and 2019, “will be a guiding force as the company continues to scale its efforts in global football,” Topps — which manufactures collectibles — said. After Dr. Anthony Fauci threw the first pitch at a Washington Nationals game on July 24, Topps created a limited-run card capturing the moment that sold a record-breaking 51,512 units.
“As the winningest coach in United States soccer history, Jill has demonstrated a unique ability to connect with people from diverse backgrounds, inspire excellence and execute on lofty goals with no margin for error,” Topps owner Michael D. Eisner said in an announcement. “Her skill set, experience and accomplishments in the global business of sport will be of immeasurable value for Topps.”
In addition to Ellis and Eisner, Topps’ Board of Directors includes chairman Andy Redman, president of The Tornante Company; Jim Perry and Scott Pasquini, managing directors at Madison Dearborn Partners; Double E Pictures CEO Eric Eisner; Maria Seferian, general counsel, Hillspire LLC; and Chris Zyda, Mozaic, LLC founder and CEO.
The trading card business has boomed amid the COVID-19 pandemic. On eBay alone, sales of basketball cards increased 130% year-over-year since the beginning of the pandemic into September. Baseball and football cards have also seen an increase, rising 50% and 47%, respectively, according to Sports Collectors Daily.
“Topps products are a source of passion, unlocking creativity for people around the world through a shared love of sport and entertainment,” Ellis said. “I am grateful to Topps for this opportunity and am excited to help the beloved company continue to win in global football and beyond.”
Ellis stepped away from the USWNT in July 2019, just weeks after winning her second World Cup. Since then, she’s served in an ambassador role with U.S. Soccer, working to increase the number of female coaches in the sport.
News of her appointment to the Topps board comes as Ellis has been rumored to be a preliminary candidate to take over as manager for MLS team D.C. United, which would make her the first female manager in the league’s history.
Before joining U.S. Soccer full-time in 2008, Ellis was UCLA’s head women’s soccer coach for 12 years, where she led the Bruins to eight national semifinals and six consecutive conference championships.