By George Von Benko
During her playing days, Loui Hall left a huge imprint on Western Pennsylvania basketball. Now known by her married name Ellen Guillard, she is continuing to make her mark as a coach.
The basketball journey started for Guillard at an early age.
“I started playing basketball at South Union basketball camp.” Guillard recalled. “I was four years old and I was illegally participating at the camp. I think the age limit was either five or six. I was four and I remember the Meadows brothers used to run that camp. Nick Bosnic used to be there and help at the camp. But I started at four years old.”
Guillard developed into an outstanding high school player following in the footsteps of her older
“It was very helpful having her,” Guillard stated. “She was a totally different athlete than I was, so I kind of learned from her what I could do and what I couldn’t do.”
Guillard was a product of the playground culture.
“My grandmother is from Edenborn, PA,” Guillard offered. “There’s no stop signs, and there’s a court right in front of my grandmother’s home that I grew up playing on with all the kids and adults in the neighborhood. I played with mostly guys for most of my life. I would play at the local YMCA in Uniontown with a lot of the kids from Uniontown that were my age. I used to see the guys from Uniontown every Saturday and everyday after school, and I used to compete and play against them.
“I also knew all about Vivian Stringer who was from Edenborn; my sister transferred from Penn State to Rutgers and played for her. She really, really inspired me.”
There wasn’t much that Guillard couldn’t do on the basketball court. She led Albert Gallatin to four straight WPIAL playoff appearances. The Colonials, under coach Ann Capozzi, posted a record of 23-4 in 1999-2000. They beat Montour 66-43 before falling to North Allegheny 70-46 in the WPIAL playoffs.
In 2000-01, AG went 19-8 and beat Indiana 48-47
before losing to Oakland Catholic 71-51. They posted a record of 14-10 in 2001-02 and lost to Hempfield 61-50 in the playoffs.
In Guillard’s senior campaign in 2002-03, Shea Fleenor took over as head coach and AG finished 21-6. The Colonials beat Mt. Lebanon 40-39 before falling to Hempfield 58-33 in the WPIAL playoffs.
Guillard put up some impressive numbers at Albert Gallatin. She eclipsed her sisters career scoring record posting a career total of 2,440 points. She also holds the rebounding record at AG with a career total of 1,225.
“I had a good relationship with Coach Capozzi,” Guillard stated. “I earned the opportunity to play and start. It was a good experience.”
Guillard wishes they could have made deeper runs in the WPIAL playoffs.“I kind of feel like I’m in coaching now, and I have some unresolved anger for not making it further into the state bracket and the WPIAL tournament,” Guillard said. “Now being at Allderdice, I’m really pushing for the program to do those things that I couldn’t accomplish back in the day.”
She has fond memories of her teammates at AG.
“Marisa Gudac scored her 1,000th point as a senior, and I reached 1,000 as a sophomore in the same game,” Guillard recalled.
When Guillard graduated from Albert Gallatin in 2003, she decided to play college basketball at Duquesne.
“My sisters experience and journey guided me in picking a school,” Guillard explained. “She was super woman at that time and being hurt really just made me think about academics. Regardless of what happens to my body at least I can walk away with a degree. That’s why I chose Duquesne at that time. There was a lot to choose from, but I went with Duquesne partially because I wanted to be closer to home. That’s a big decision to make at 18 years old.”
Guillard was part of Duquesne squads that posted records of 16-13 in 2003-04, 10-18 in 2004-05, 13-17 in 2005-06, and 7-20 in 2006-07.
She had outstanding career numbers at Duquesne where she tallied 1,349 career points and grabbed 576 career rebounds.
“We had some talent,” Guillard said. “Battled through some adversity and became a better leader and person. The program reached new levels under Suzie McConnell Serio after I left and has continued to flourish under Dan Burt.”
After leaving Duquesne, Guillard went overseas and had an outstanding career with Team Northumbria of the English Basketball League.
“I was there for four years,” Guillard said. “My first year there I was MVP of that league. Then I was in Africa in Uganda after I stopped playing and helped with former child soldiers. Then I came back to the United States. I feel like I discovered my passion for youth and helping youth when I was over there.”
“I didn’t want to coach, I really didn’t want to do that,” Guillard stated. “I started working for Pittsburgh Public Schools as a counselor and some opportunities opened up. I became an assistant coach at Westinghouse and was there for a year. I thought I didn’t want to coach anymore, all of the sudden I got the itch again and the assistant position opened up at Allderdice and I went for it. We didn’t have much success, that was 2014. I was frustrated we made it to the City League championship and lost a lot of games. The head coach left and I became head coach and I was eight months pregnant. I’m now entering my third year as head coach and things have turned around. I’m thankful for that, but we had a lot of growing pains.”
Guillard led Pittsburgh Allderdice to back to back Pittsburgh Public Schools Interscholastic Athletics Girls Basketball championships in 2018 and 2019.
Guillard has been married to her husband Aaron for three years, and they have a two-year old son Aaron Jr who goes by AJ.
“It’s so different now because I don’t go by my nickname anymore,” Guillard explained. “My middle name is Louise and I’ve always been a tomboy. Mom thought I was going to be a boy when she was pregnant. When I came out my nickname was Loui. I go by my given name Ellen and my husbands last name Guillard and it has led to some confusion. Loui Hall hasn’t gone away, I’m just flying with a different tag.”