Dedication leads to Sun Belt title

Alyse Nelson
Features Editor

Most of us do not include a 60-mile, eight-hour bike ride in our average weekend plans.
But at least one woman on campus does, and she has been named Mid-Major All American in the Sun Belt Conference for basketball.
Ashley Beverly Kelley, a junior exercise science major from Birmingham, received that honor after some impressive game statistics this season.
“They pick some of the schools from each division and they pick the best people out of those divisions,” Kelley said. “Only three people out of the Sun Belt got it.”
Early in this season, Kelley scored her 1,000th career point and is now with 1,316 points as the season nears its end. She scored 46 points in a single game against Georgia Southern, a record for all Division I players this season.
“We got a 20-win season, which hasn’t happened in a long time,” she also said.
Kelley credits her success to both early coaching and recently increased preparation for games.
Beginning basketball when she was in third grade, Kelley remembers watching her uncle coaching her cousins. He now coaches for the Arkansas Razorbacks.
“It’s always been around my family, but never with the girls except one,” she said. “I just kept doing it because it runs in my family and it was fun.”
Recruited by Troy after a showcase in North Carolina, Kelley has enjoyed improving her gameplay during her time at the college level.
“I keep striving to get better even though each year I’m rewarded with something,” Kelley said. “I always try to find something to get better at because I know I can be a better player.”
Kelley said she has increased her time at the gym as well as trying to find other ways to improve her gameplay.
“I bought a bike to get me some extra exercise,” she said.
One weekend, beginning at 5 a.m., Kelley and her boyfriend rode their bikes a total of 60 miles through both Brantley and Luverne.
Laughing, she notes that she didn’t actually intend for the trip to be that long and that it’s important to remember that however far you bike, you have to bike back the same distance.
“I guess it’s helped me,” Kelley said of the sport. “Say we’re having a bad season and trying to progress. Even though you’re down, you have to stay encouraged to have better progress.”
After graduation, she hopes to make it into professional basketball.
“I want to continue to pursue my basketball dreams,” Kelley said. “Hopefully, I get to open up my own gym after I get done playing so I can help the little kids in the community.”
She also mentioned that she would like to go back to school for dentistry.
Though she has received a lot of individual recognition this year, Kelley’s favorite basketball memories involve playing with her team.
Her favorite memory from this season was beating South Louisiana after being down by 30 points and then coming back. Teammate Aissata Maiga scored the game-winning shot.
“I was happy that she got the game-winning shot and she was happy.”

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