By: Bill O’Connell
When Swanton senior Ashlynn Waddell was deciding which college to attend this coming fall, the three-sport student athlete had narrowed her choices to the University of Toledo and the University of Findlay. However, unless she was able to make the volleyball team as a walk-on at one of those the large schools, it looked like her athletic career would be over.
Fortunately, from almost out of nowhere, Bethany College and head volleyball coach Courtney Kline came calling and offered Ashlynn an opportunity to continue her volleyball career as well as her education.
“There are a lot of different reasons that helped me decide to attend Bethany College. One is because it is a Christian college and my faith is extremely important to me,” explained Ashlynn.
“I also like that it is a smaller school so I will be able to get a lot of one on one from professors. I find that I learn better in smaller environments. I decided that Bethany would be a great place for me to not only further my education but my athletic career as well.”
At first, Ashlynn felt nervous about going too far away for college which is why she was focused on schools in Northwest Ohio. But after committing to Bethany College, located over 250 miles away in Bethany, West Virginia, she now looks forward it. “I’m actually extremely excited to be going a bit farther away from home and being able to experience new things and a brand-new environment,” she said.
Of course, Ashlynn is also looking forward to joining a very successful volleyball program under Coach Kline, a three-time Presidents Athletic Conference (PAC) Coach of the Year and the winningest coach in school history. “While I know sports aren’t everything and my education is my number one focus, I still couldn’t imagine not being a part of a team anymore,” she said.
“I’ve been an athlete my entire life and it’s taught me so much more than just how to hit a volleyball or shoot a basketball. It’s taught me important life skills such as a strong work ethic, teamwork, and selflessness. To be a good teammate you have to put the team first, and it’s extremely important that you celebrate your teammates successes just as much as your own. I believe that this is something not just true in sports, but in life too. Being an athlete has made me strive to be that type of person in all aspects of my life.”
Playing a sport while staying focused on your studies in college can be very challenging, but Ashlynn looks to be well prepared. “Ashlynn was a very strong hitter for us and she will continue to strengthen those abilities as she continues on,” said Swanton volleyball coach Kyle Boer.
“She was one of the key reasons we were successful the past four years.” Ashlynn is a member of the National Honor Society, an NWOAL Scholar Athlete, All-Academic, All-District 7, volleyball and basketball player and will graduate with an honors diploma. And, she has established very lofty goals for herself.
“I intend to major in biology with a premed track in mind. My end goal is to become a pediatrician, said Ashlynn. “I’ve always known that I wanted to have a job where I could help people and, after much deliberation, I decided that being a doctor would be my best bet. After all, they do say you shoot for the stars.”
Bill can be reached at email@example.com