VandyMania Interview: Ashley Earley

In June 2002, junior forward Ashley Earley tore the ACL in her left knee while playing pickup. Now, a year later, VandyMania talked with her to find out how this summer is going for her. Here's what she told us.

VM: Tell me how you've been spending your summer.

Ashley: Summer's been going really well. I've been here working out -- lifting, conditioning, playing pickup. I'm not taking classes now; I'm taking classes next semester in July. I've been working at Camp Rec; that's a day camp over at the Rec Center. I usually work from 7 till about 3. It's a camp for school-aged kids; the youngest is about 6. It goes up through about 14. I work with the older kids, the 11-, 12-, and 13-year olds.

VM: When camp's over, you're just going to be a student?

Ashley: Yes, I'm just going to be a student.

VM: And you're working basketball camp now, too?

Ashley: Yeah, and I'm working basketball camp. I worked at the rec this morning, and then I came over and worked the basketball camp.

VM: This time last year your life was kind of different.

Ashley: Right. Very different.

VM: How has the rehabilitation of your knee gone over the course of the past year?

Ashley: There were times when it was pretty difficult. Yeah, this time last year, the end of June, I was just coming off surgery. I think I was still on crutches and to think back and remember how it was then, and feel how it is now -- it's amazing. Especially recently, my knee is feeling great.

VM: You say "recently" -- has it been getting progressively better over time?

Ashley: Yes, oh yes. Over time. You know, as much rehab as we were doing, as much treatment, I think only time has healed it.

VM: Are you still doing any special rehabilitation for it?

Ashley: No, not really, nothing other than what we do in the weight room. It feels as good as new, pretty much. I'm still rebuilding some muscle that I lost that atrophied. But it's doing really well. I'm really satisfied with it as of late.

VM: Basketball-wise, you play pickup several days a week.

Ashley: Yeah, we play Monday, Wednesday, Friday.

VM: Are there any particular things that over the course of the summer you want to improve on, basketball-wise?

Ashley: Yes. I want to improve on a lot of things. I've been working on my strengths and my weaknesses. I'm working on shooting, being more of a presence around the basket, like rebounding, working on some interior post moves, and then working on strength and conditioning overall. I've pretty much been working on everything, I guess I could say, but those are a few things -- shooting especially, like being a threat everywhere on the court.

VM: Do you think you might want to be shooting more from the outside?

Ashley: Yeah, I need to look for it specifically.

VM: You've got a whole bunch of freshmen coming in real soon. This year you'll be one of the upperclassmen. What do you think you need to do help mold a team out of the returning players and the newcomers?

Ashley: Seeing as we lost two wonderful leaders like Chantelle and Ashley, who were captains, other people have to step up. Now, as upperclassmen, we have to step up. We have to be the leaders of the team. Jenni and Hillary are going to be the captains -- they are the captains, and everyone else, we just have to help them. We have seven freshmen, so it's going to take everybody. It can't just be the two captains of the team. It's going to take all the returning players. We are veterans now, because we've been here, we've been through the system one year. It's going to take everybody.

VM: What is the thing coming in that the freshmen most need help with, or guidance or people to role model?

Ashley: A lot of times when players come in, they've got the talent; they've just not mature enough. I think a lot of it is learning maturity -- how quickly they're going to mature and how quickly they're going to learn the system and understand it. I think that's really important. I think it's up to us to help them with that. And it's up to everyone. Like I said, there are seven freshmen.

VM: Going into this season, now you've had a year in the system. How does that feel compared to last year going in when it was all brand new?

Ashley: It feels so much better. It was like we were all freshmen coming in to a new system with a new coaching staff. Everybody. It feels pretty good. It feels kinda similar to coming in as a freshman and now having a year of learning experience.

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Photo of Ashley Earley with Strength and Conditioning Coach Lori Alexander by Whitney D. for VandyMania. Click on thumbnail for larger image.

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