LUFKIN, TX (News Release) - Ashley Walker's ties to Angelina College encompass a full one-third of her life, but now she's moving east after more than nine years wearing AC's familiar blue-and-orange color scheme.
Walker has accepted a position as assistant basketball coach and recruiting coordinator at South Carolina State University in Orangeburg, South Carolina. The Lady Bulldogs are members of Division I's Mid-Eastern Athletic conference and are coached by Doug Robertson.
Walker, a Bryan, Texas native played two years for former head coach Dwan Coleman's Lady Roadrunners after leaving Bryan High School as a highly sought recruit. While at AC from 1999-2002, she was part of the 24-7 team that broke the program record for wins in a season. Her success at the junior-college level led to a scholarship at Texas Wesleyan University, where she played for another two seasons.
After that, it was back to Angelina College as Byron Coleman's assistant coach – a role Walker has played well for seven full seasons. During the 2009-2010 season, Walker was on the sidelines as her team established a new mark for wins in a season with a 26-7 record. In her time as an AC assistant, Walker has seen the Lady Roadrunners achieve national junior college rankings on several occasions while helping send numerous players on to the next level of basketball competition.
The concept of the "next level" is what helped Walker make her decision to leave what has been her home for nearly a decade.
"Opportunities like this don't come around often, and as much as I love it here and hate to leave, it's a step up for me, and it's time for me to take that step," Walker said. "Byron and I discussed it, and he knows it's always been a dream of mine to coach at that level. I love Texas; I'm a Texas gal all the way, but this is really good for my career."
After seeing her AC teams compete in one of the toughest junior college regions in the nation, Walker said she feels she's developed the types of contacts in Texas and Louisiana to help build a pipeline of player talent extending from here to the east coast.
"My main objective is to infuse South Carolina with Texas and Louisiana talent, more so with the Texas kids. I know Region XIV and Region V very well, especially since AC plays in Region XIV, and I have a lot of contacts in those areas.
"It's going to be exciting, but it will also be a challenge in that it's a different group of kids I'll be recruiting and coaching. But I'm ready for that. I'm ready to step my recruiting up, because at that level it's a different game in a lot of ways."
It's a big jump, Walker said, but one for which she's been working for years – and, she hopes, one that will lead to a head coaching job at some point.
"Maybe one day," Walker said. "I'm still growing as a person and as a coach, and I know it takes time to reach a position like that. Right now, recruiting is one of my strengths; I love meeting kids, talking to them and recruiting them. It's a perfect role for me, and I'm excited about it."