VandyMania Interview: Ashley Earley

Vanderbilt senior Ashley Earley about her final season at Vandy and her role as a leader on the Commodore women's basketball team.

VM: This year you've been a senior leader. Often when people move into a new role, they're sometimes forced to move out of their comfort zone a little bit and as a result grow as a person. As you look back over the year, what kinds of things have been hard for you and in what ways have you grown?

Ashley: Being a senior leader for Abi and me has been different. Like you said, we have had to come out of our comfort zone. Something that comes to mind initially is being more vocal. In the past, we've had great senior leadership with Zuzi, Jillian and Candice, last year Jenni and Hillary and before that Chantelle and Ashley.

And you do have to take kind of a backseat to the leaders. Everyone can't be as vocal as they are, and I think one thing that we learned is that to be a good leader you first have to learn to follow. And I think we did a good job of listening to our senior leaders and learning from them, and taking what was learned, the positives, from those leaders in the past.

VM: I think that's something I haven't really thought about before. Just like there are some people who have to learn to speak up, there are others who have to learn to listen.

Ashley: Right. You have to learn how to follow before you can lead. That's one thing I've learned from basketball. That's something Coach Balcomb has repeatedly talked about. Another thing is you have to show respect to earn respect. It kind of goes hand in hand.

VM: So in a way you could say that all through your career, it's paving the way for the day when it'll be time for you to take that final step.

Ashley: Definitely.

VM: Once that time came for you, in what ways did you have to stretch yourself to become a leader?

Ashley: Like I said, just being more vocal. Like me personally, I've always worked hard. I've always pretty much led through example. It was time to step up and be more vocal. All the successful teams are the ones that have vocal leaders, ones that lead not only on the court but off the court as well.

VM: Is that something didn't come naturally to you?

Ashley: In high school probably we were all vocal. We probably all led our teams, but being here, it wasn't my role. My freshman, sophomore and junior years, it wasn't my role, so it was different. It was different from high school. It's something that you have to re-learn.

VM: Were there any ways in which it was an easier job than you expected?

Ashley: Not really. Being a leader is a lot of responsibility. It is difficult at times, but it's something that we take in. We want it. I want to be responsible for what goes on on the team. I want to be a leader. As seniors, it's our last year, and we want to lead the team. We want to have the success of the team in our hands.

VM: Last year there was a point in the year after the loss at Alabama when the team turned around. This year there was kind of a similar loss at Ole Miss. Was that similar to last year?

Ashley: Yeah. Last year I feel like the Alabama loss was so dramatic. It was a definitive line there. You knew that was the bottom line. You knew that was rock bottom. This year it didn't get that bad. I don't know if Ole Miss was the turning point or not, but there were times in the season when we did talk as a team and say that we didn't want to repeat what happened last year, and we had to each individually take accountability and make a chanage.

VM: Is that something that you and Abi would initiate?

Ashley: Definitely, yes, definitely. Right after that game, things were said.

VM: Now, looking ahead from this point on, what are your hopes and plans for the future?

Ashley: I'd like to play. I'd like to play professionally for a few more years after college and eventually, I'd like to attend law school.

VM: Have you thought about what type of law you'd be interested in?

Ashley: My sister's a criminal attorney. I don't want to do that. Maybe corporate law, maybe sports law of some sort, or real estate. (Laughs.) I don't know. I'll need to look into it a little bit more.

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Photo copyright 2005 by WhitneyD for VandyMania.com

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