"I'm excited about it," Ernst said. "I believe my family and I will fit in at Purdy. I have heard nothing but good things about the community and am ready for the challenge that awaits."
Ernst was encouraged by departing Purdy head coach Grant Young (who moved to Union) to apply for the vacant position.
"Our wives know each other very well," Ernst said. "They were classmates at Nixa. I had a chance to watch the Lady Eagles over the last couple of years and was very impressed. Grant did a good job of putting Purdy basketball on the map."
Ernst, a 1995 graduate of Mountain View-Birch Tree Liberty High School, began coaching while attending Missouri State in Springfield.
He coached two years at the junior high level at Nixa -- assisting Jay Osborne -- and served a year under Darren Taylor, at Greenwood, before returning to Nixa for another year -- also to student teach -- prior to joining Dave Smith at Fordland.
Ernst, who'll receive a master's degree in August from Lindenwood, will have some valuable building blocks returning for his team, including senior starters Mattie White and Katie Hughes. Sophomores Jayse Henderson, Billie House and Kat Hughes are also expected to return.
"I want people to look at my team and know that they are playing with great effort," said Ernst. "I want us to be ready to play each and every time we take the floor.
"We plan to run a motion offense and create mismatches," continued Ernst. "On defense, we will primarily stay in a man-to-man and try to pressure whenever we can."
Ernst stated he won't measure his team by wins or losses, but whether or not the team gets better as the season goes along.
"There is going to be a big learning curve as the team and I get to know each other," said Ernst. "We will need young players to mature quickly and everything we do or accomplish will have to be done as a team."
Eli and his wife, Sarah, have three children -- daughters Kierstin, 17, and Kendall, 6, and son Kamden, 3.