Thursday, February 19, 2015

Ashley Usher: Proud to be a Christian Crusader

Harrells Christian Academy senior Ashley Noelle Usher has been named this week’s Performance Auto/Sampson Weekly Star Athlete of the Week.

While she is currently playing basketball for the Christian Crusaders, she said she was proud of the way the schools’ volleyball team finished the season.

“Our team started off a little rough,” the 18-year-old says diplomatically, “but we really came together towards the end of the season.”

Although she said she wasn’t expecting to be named Star Athlete of the Week, Usher said she was excited to earn the honor.
“I was really excited to get it,” she admitted. “It feels good to know that all the hard work and dedication that has been put into the sport that I love has paid off. However, I wouldn’t be the athlete that I am without my teammates and my coaches.”
Born in Watha, N.C. the three-sport star (including basketball and softball) has been attending Harrells Christian Academy since kindergarten.

She got interested in sports at around the age of four. “That is when I started playing softball and I have been playing ever since,” she explained.

“Unfortunately, there weren’t any programs around for me to play basketball and volleyball at a younger age. (Because) I definitely would have played if I could have.”

Usher said that she first got involved with volleyball when she was in the seventh grade.

“It was really the earliest time I was able to,” she said. “My sister played volleyball and my mama coached for a little while, so I was at all of her games and practices ... I was able to be exposed to it, really, since I was in the third grade.”
Once she got on the court, she felt at home.

“There’s not really one specific thing that I love about it, because I love everything about it,” Usher explained. “I’ve always had a passion for the sport and nothing beats the feeling that I get when I play. But one of my favorite things about it is that it’s a team sport. A selfish person is not able to thrive on the volleyball court; it takes the whole team to play.”
For her first two years (in high school) playing for the Crusaders, Usher played setter. But she moved into a more comfortable position on the court.

“I was a setter from my seventh grade year until my junior year,” she said, “until I became a libero. I feel like a libero is really what I should have been all along. I enjoy being a libero and I feel like I really thrive in that position.”
But it is the game itself that she enjoys the most.

“I love the energy on the court,” Usher said. “There’s not any time for you to be standing still because there is always something going on. The feeling I get when I get a really good dig or when one of my teammates gets a good kill is unbeatable.”

As good as Usher is on the court, she is just as solid off of it.

“I really enjoy Science,” she said. “I guess because I want to go into the medical field, studying life and how things come about really interests me.”

Usher has taken all Honors, AP and Dual Enrollment classes and has been a member of Beta Club throughout high school. On top of that, she was a Junior Marshal last year for graduation and has maintained a 4.5 GPA throughout her high school career.

So it makes perfect sense that Usher plans on working on becoming a nurse.

“I want to be a nurse because it’s something I’ve always had a passion for,” she said. “In the next 10 years I hope to have a job at a good hospital and be successful; hopefully have a family.”

When asked if she plans on playing any sports in college, Usher says flatly, ‘no’.

“I want to focus on school once I get to college,” she explained. “But I am really going to miss it (playing sports).”
Although this is her final year at Harrells, Usher said it was her pleasure playing for them.

“It’s been an honor to be a Crusader,” she said. “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the time that I’ve gotten to play sports here. The memories I’ve made and the lessons I’ve learned on the court and on the field is something that I will carry with me the rest of my life. There’s no better feeling than putting on my green and gold.”

She admits that the support that she has received from the community, teachers, fans and teammates has meant everything to her.

“They’re all really supportive and it feels good to see your teachers and fellow classmates in the stands cheering you on.”
She continued by showing some love for her family, coaches and friends.

“All I can say is thank you. I honestly wouldn’t be the person or athlete I am without all my coaches and teammates. They’ve all played a huge role in my life and they will always hold a special place in my heart. Also, to my family, I couldn’t have done any of it without you all. I’ve never been to a game that I haven’t had at least one family member at and it really means a lot. Things get really busy and overwhelming at times, but I really and truly appreciate all that you all have done for me. All of that support has meant everything to me and I wouldn’t have been able to do any of it without them.”

When asked what was the best piece of advice she has ever been given, Usher said it was from Coach Crump.

“She has always been there for me and she pushes me to be the best I can be on and off the court,” she said. “She’s been with me a really long time and she knows what I am capable of and she won’t let me settle for anything else.”

What advice would Usher pass down to an upcoming freshman player?

“Enjoy every minute of it, because it goes by way too fast,” she said. “Work hard and always give 110 percent, it will all pay off in the long run.”

Maturity at its finest. 

All credit for this article goes to the Sampson Weekly

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