Shay serves as a positive role model, dedicated friend, and team member

By Megan Drabek

mdrabek@my.madonna.edu

Most would agree with me when I say that Ashley Shay serves as positive role model, devoted and dedicated friend, student, and team member, as well as a well-known and familiar face at Madonna University.  In fact, everyone would agree.

It didn’t take long for the 21-year-old senior to find her place at MU, whether she’s catching for the Crusader softball team, working late at a volleyball game in the Activities Center, or strategizing a fundraiser or team event.  Ashley, without a doubt, is a woman of all trades.  And that too, everyone would agree.

Ashley graduated from Divine Child in 2007, and surprisingly, Madonna University was at the bottom of the list for potential colleges.  She knew she wanted to experience the “dorm life”, and by living only a few minutes from Madonna, living in the dorms would be impractical.  She also knew she wanted to play softball—and not ride the bench.  As nature worked it’s course, MU won Ashley’s heart, and has become much of a home to her.  After playing right field her first year for the Crusaders, she earned her spot as starting catcher, and has made the team proud.  The 2011 season will be Ashley’s last time playing for the Crusaders. 

“Because of dental school, I know this will be my last time playing competitively,” said Ashley.  “It’s unreal that this is the end.”

However, softball will always be at the center of Ashley’s heart.  She currently coaches the Dearborn Heights Wild, a 12u travel team.  She loves coaching, and has found many rewards involved with it.

“I like coaching, a lot.  It is very stressful at times because of their young age, but it is very rewarding to see them be successful,” said Ashley.  “As a player, I understand what they are going through, so it helps me relate to them more.”

Ashley was introduced to softball at a very young age.  Her dad has always played slow pitch, and at three years old, Ashley fell in love with it too.  Eight years later, she started playing for her first travel team, Finesse.  She also played for a Garden City team and the Michigan Batbusters.  High school approached quickly, and Ashley, to no surprise, made the Varsity team her freshman year, where she won three district championships. 

However, during her junior year of high school, a very unexpected and unforgettable occurrence changed Ashley’s life.  Her mother, Lisa Shay, was suddenly diagnosed with stomach cancer, and six months later, passed away. 

Ashley was only 16 years old when her mother passed away; she died on the second day of Ashley’s softball try-outs. 

“I didn’t tell a lot of people.  Not a lot of my friends knew about it.  It was really hard for a long time,” she said. 

Ashley’s two brothers, Jeremy, 19, and Ryan, 23 and her father, are all extremely close, which helped with their traumatic loss.

“”It was hard at such a young age, but being close with my brothers really helped,” she added.

After her mother passed away, Ashley and her two brothers, who also play baseball at Bowling Green State University, decided to start a ritual every time they got up to the plate.   Ashley writes her mothers initials, L.S., in the dirt with her bat, every time she walks up to the plate.  She also recites the bible verse, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  

“I now know how precious life is and that it can be short,” she said.  “I have realized that you are going to make regrets, and hopefully you learn from them.”

Ashley has made a positive mark on many people, and recently was honored with the Julie Martin Scholarship.  The Julie Martin Scholarship is in honor or Julie Martin, a previous volleyball player at Madonna, who died of cancer.  Ashley explained that after she won the award, she talked to many people about Julie, and learned that she was not only a great athlete, but a great leader as well. 

“The award is not solely based on athletics—it has to deal with character and personality,” said Ashley.  She added that Julie was a very shy person at first, much like herself, but then decided to open up through college. 

“It is an honor to get this award and know that people think of me this way,” she said.

Ashley decided to pursue a degree in Biology and pre-dentistry.  She currently works at a dentist office, and plans to transfer to either Detroit Mercy or the University of Michigan Ann Arbor after graduating from Madonna to continue her education and dream of being a dentist. 

“I am always carrying floss, a toothbrush, and toothpaste in my purse,” Ashley said.  “I am very anal about my teeth, so I figured, ‘why not?’  Dentistry is perfect for me.”

As the 2011 softball season approaches, Ashley stays busy with the team, trying to balance her studies and work all at once.  She mentioned the softball team’s first trip together, Arizona, which is set for March. The trip serves as a catalyst to boost the team’s friendship, and a perfect place to make many memorable memories. 

Before talking with Ashley, I thought I was busy, and I think most would say the same. This is, by far, her hardest semester yet; there is so much on her plate, especially between softball and school.

Sleep, study, eat, work, and play softball—that is, in the simplest form, a typical day for Ashley. 

And she wouldn’t trade it for the world, either.