Prior to US Youth Soccer, Ellinger coached the Under-17 U.S. Soccer National Team and was the Director of Youth Development. He headed the U.S. Soccer Federation's Bradenton Academy, where many of the United States' most talented youths have been developed.
In 2005, he joined Real Salt Lake of Major League Soccer to become the new expansion team's first coach. Previously, Ellinger had one season of professional coaching experience as an assistant coach for the Columbus Crew in 1996.
The National Soccer Coaches Association of America presented Ellinger with the 2006 Youth Long-Term Service Award for outstanding achievement in youth soccer and for contributions that have made a positive impact on the youth soccer environment at their annual convention in January of 2007.
Ellinger started his career in soccer as an educator and coach in Maryland. He then was the head coach at Montgomery College (MD) and served as the Director of Coaching for Columbia (MD) Soccer Association where his team won the prestigious US Youth Soccer National Championship title in 1996 and 1997.
He earned his bachelor's degree and master's degree in health and physical education from Frostburg State University in Maryland. He and his wife, Tami, have three children: daughters Leigh and Brooke, and son Matt.