In her first year with the program, she took the Paris High School volleyball program to new heights it had not reached in nearly a decade.
Now entering her second season as the Lady ’Cats’ head volleyball coach, Ashley Green looks to build upon a successful season. She guided the Lady ’Cats to a district title, and all for the first time since 2010, led Paris to a regular-season tournament championship, a regular-season series sweep of rival North Lamar and a bi-district championship win over Henderson.
“In fifth grade, I started playing volleyball because I saw my sister playing it, so I thought, ‘Oh, I want to try it,’” Green said. “I thought I would be pretty good, and I was. I started playing club volleyball when I was in seventh grade, and I got to be on an advanced team with girls older than me. I made the freshman team in my first year of high school, then I was on varsity each year after that. I still always played club volleyball, I got to go with my team in Florida to the junior Olympics and national Olympics in Atlanta. It was really helpful getting that exposure, which helped me play in college. I played at Tarleton (State) for four and a half years before I graduated.”
The highlight of her playing career came in her final season at Tarleton, where she helped her team make school history in its first appearance to the regional tournament. Overcoming this adversity when it mattered most still holds true as a defining memory for Green.
“It was my senior year at Tarleton, and we were playing for the Lone Star Conference Championship,” Green said. “The top eight teams get to go to the regional tournament, and we weren’t ranked (number) one, so that meant we didn’t automatically qualify for regionals. If we won against a certain team in the second to last round, we knew we could beat the team we would face in the finals. We played West Texas A&M in the semifinals, and we were battling back and forth with them. They won a set, then we won a set. We were in our fifth game, and we knew that we had to get it done since we all wanted to get to regionals. I got the last ball, got the kill and then we won. We went on to beat San Angelo in the finals, so we qualified for regionals.”
Life is full of unexpected twists and turns, so enrolling in a military school at the end of her time as a junior high student may come as a shock to those who know Green.
“I went to a military school in eighth grade,” Green said. “I wasn’t a part of the military, but I was a civilian is what they called it. I went to one in San Antonio, which is kind of a fun fact.”
Green entered high school and quickly earned the reputation as the team’s go-to hitter in being the offensive unit’s centerpiece both through the game in general and especially in crunch time. Once she noticed that it’s a great, big world out there full of other girls with the same mindset and role, Green knew she had to step her game up another gear.
“In high school, I was kind of the go-to person when our team needed a kill,” Green said. “Everyone else on my team was good, but everyone typically wanted me to have the ball. When I went to college, I realized that everyone is good and competing, which humbled me. It made me realize, ‘Wow, I’m not the only good one. I’ve got to earn it and work hard.’ Even when I would get blocked sometimes, that was humbling because it made me figure out how I needed to get through the block and mix it up with my attacks.”
It wasn’t always her goal to be a coach after stellar playing careers as a middle blocker at San Antonio Louis D. Brandeis High School and a right-side hitter at Tarleton State University, but the inspiration she gained from the values and culture implemented from a previous coach sparked her desire to help cultivate young talent on the volleyball court.
“It kind of all started with my high school coach, and her name is Maddie Williams,” Green said. “She came in really hard with discipline, set the tone with what we could and couldn’t do, we worked hard every day and we ran a lot. I think the biggest thing was the discipline aspect. That is what she taught me, along with working hard no matter what. You may not play, but she made it clear that she needed you to perform your role so we could all come together and stick together as one team.”
She learned plenty of skills and earned numerous accomplishments as a player, but Green’s biggest takeaways were the life lessons she learned that she implements in her coaching style to this day.
“Something that has resonated with me from playing and coaching volleyball is just working hard no matter what every day,” Green said. “I learned to go 100 percent every day and want to be a role model for the kids I coach every day. I also learned the importance of teamwork, just being able to work with people well even if you don’t agree with them because that’s what you have to do in the real world.”
Even though the Lady ’Cats put together an excellent season, it wasn’t always smooth sailing for the Green-led Paris squad. Paris ended up defeating Henderson in four sets in the teams’ bi-district match played at Daingerfield High School, but listening ears were hard to come by with an amped-up team attempting to battle a slow start.
“I think it was in our first playoff game we had, I told one of our players to hit (down the) line,” Green said. “She kept going for the cross, and I kept telling her that line was open. When she finally got a kill down the line, she said, ‘Coach I got a kill!’ And I said, ‘Yeah you got a kill because I told you it was open!’ Many times when I would tell the girls they (Henderson) were going to hit right over the block, it just wouldn’t connect. They eventually caught on, but sometimes the listening with things going in one ear and out the other is something to overcome as a coach.”
The game, life and other responsibilities can provide a recipe for one to experience stress from time to time. Fortunately for Green, she can find her happy place in a variety of ways to get on track.
“My happy place to get away from the stress of volleyball or anything I’m going through is being with my family, seeing my husband and being with Grayson,” Green said. “It’s good just being together, and it doesn’t matter where. Working out is another stress reliever that just helps me be in a good mood and get rid of all the stress I’m feeling. Another thing is reading books. I love to read, whether it’s self-development books about coaching or something else, and also romance books.”
With her first year being one for the history books, Green’s next challenge is an encore performance where there are high hopes that the sequel lives up to the same type of billing.
Photo: Tony Corso