【The Woman Basketball Coach】Ashley Raley-Ross
【The Woman Basketball Coach】Ashley Raley-Ross

【The Woman Basketball Coach】Ashley Raley-Ross

【The Woman Basketball Coach】
Ashley Raley Ross “Don’t Stop Chasing It.”

March Madness

The girl was fascinated with the sound of the ball swishing the net.
She spent her school time playing basketball, but never thought to be a coach.
After experiencing marriage, transfer, different culture, now she is going to challenge in NCAA divisionⅠ college basketball as an assistant coach.
She is the coach Ashley Raley-Ross.

Despite her youth, 34 years old, Ashley has variable coaching experience; different countries, different ages, and different levels.
At the time of this interview, she was coaching from kids to men’s professional team in Hong Kong and
had just been appointed to an assistant coach at Wofford College.

How is she creating such a fulfilled life as a woman basketball coach?

Let’s learn from coach Ashley.


[About Coaching]
  What do you like about coaching?
  The happiest moment
  The hardest thing in coaching
  The things to care in coaching
  Bench players
  The goal

[Men’s Team VS Women’s Team]
  Difference in coaching men and women
  Reaction of men’s team
  Salary gap
  Woman coach and pregnant

[More about Ashley’s life]
  Encounter with basketball
  Love for basketball
  Ashley as a player
  Impactful people
  Daily routine
  Favorite words

[Message to woman coaches and woman players]


[About Coaching]

Q:What do you like about coaching?

A:I never intended to be a coach.
I played four years at Charlette, North Carolina, and my coach saw something in me as a coach.
When I graduated the university, she arranged a coaching job for me.
That was to coach 4 to 5 years old kids in recreational basketball league.
Then, I was hooked!

Very rewarding. Coaching is never the same. Everyday is something new.
The impact that I have been able to have in working with young people has left maybe a bigger impact on me a lot of the times.

It’s very rewarding for me.

Q:When is your happiest moment in coaching?

A:I love winning! I’m very competitive!
But for coaching, my happiest moment may be…
when players translate what we’ve been working on in practice or workout to the game, and we just make eye contact because we both know what they’ve done.
It’s just that feeling. You cannot replace that feeling.
It is one of the best feelings of being a coach.

Q:What is the hardest thing for you in coaching?

A:Coaching is not easy.
I think the biggest thing and also most important thing is to manage the different personalities.

Nobody is the same. Every player is different.
You may have the player that doesn’t talk, but we need her to be vocal on the court.
You may have the player that shy, but you can’t be shy when you play basketball.
I think the most difficult thing for coaches is understanding players’ personalities, and for me, how I can help them be more successful.

Q:Have you felt failure in coaching?

A:Yes. All the time!
Last night, I was talking with my husband about a game that was played three years ago and said
“I know that I was the reason we lost this game. If I could go back in time, I would do A, B, C differently….” All the time.

I think about failures and losses, but I tell my players it’s not necessarily failures.
Just a stepping stone. When you face it again, now you know how to win.

So, for me, it’s not necessarily failure. Maybe a lesson.
But I would like to go back in time and change a few of my decisions in some games.

Losing always falls on me because there is always something that I could have done differently, help prepare us differently for, or said differently in a huddle.
I always think that losses always fall on me.

Q:What do you care the most to improve players’ skills and teamwork?

meeting2A:I think the mindset is a big thing.
Being able to coach in different countries, I’ve seen that there is different mindset toward basketball. It’s interesting. It helped me a lot understand different players.
For example, I coached in Croatia, but here in Hong Kong, there is a young lady who also thought like Croatian players.
So, for me, mindset is big.

If you play for me, you should feel like there is nothing that you can’t do.
If you work hard and if you push yourself, eventually you will achieve your goal.
At the beginning when I first meet players, this might be different for them, but by the time they leave me, I hope that they have this feeling of… there is nothing they’ll experience in a life that they can’t get through. They just have to keep pushing forward.

Another thing I’m thinking about on the court is teamwork.
We share the ball. We cerebrate for each other. Celebration and positivity is contagious.
So, I’m very big on positive body language. High-five, cheering, clapping, smiling…
It’s a game. At the end of the day, basketball is just a game.
You are supposed to have fun playing.
That’s what I encourage them to do.
It shouldn’t be a stressful time.

Q:How do you take care of bench players?

A:As a coach, I’m big on development, not just basketball wise but as a young woman also.
I go into the season understanding that our players what we’ll need to work on.
Obviously in a game of basketball, not everyone can play the same amount of minutes.
But my goal is that I help them improve to where they do their role for our team success for the best of their ability.
Some of my players would say they got more playing time as the season went on because they improved and they changed a game.
While I focus on the best players, I focus on all of my players.
If maybe they don’t play this season, we work over the summer, then we can have bigger role for the next season.


Q:What is your goal?

A:I have a vision of holding a trophy in March Madness.
Holding that up with a strong team beside me.
But really, my career goal of coaching is just to make as many and small impact on as many people as I possibly can through the game of basketball.
I just would like to be remembered as someone who positively impacted people that she came to contact with.


[Men’s Team vs Women’s Team]

Q:Do you feel difference between coaching men and coaching women?

A:Personally, yes.
There is definitely a difference.meeting3
As young women, sometimes off the court things that occur can impact what we do on the court.
Sometimes we might not pass the ball to someone who are supposed to pass the ball to because we are upset about something that they said in a locker room.

I think this doesn’t really matter to young men I’m coaching.
They might get into an argument in the middle of practice.
So, we let them handle it. Then at the end of the practice, they huddle their best friends
I think that might have been the biggest adjustment for me.
It’s just emotions are little bit different and how they handle is different.
It’s showed when we play sports. It’s two different types of game.
Also, in coaching young women, there is facial expression recognition that they see. In no matter what country I’ve coached in, I had players be able to understand my facial expressions where as men don’t understand.

Q:Did you feel resistance from men to a female coach coaching a men’s team?

A:I think I had my guard up and was expecting there to be some type of…
not as much investment in what the woman coaches were saying.

But I didn’t experience this with the men here in Hong Kong. They are extremely respectful.
I’m amazed how respectful and they’ve just taken to being coached by women.
I don’t know if that’s different in other places, but I think I’m pretty lucky.

Q:What is your thought about salary gap between men coaches and women coaches?

A:In coaching, I don’t feel there should be any pay gap.
As far as coaches, our job duties are the same, then our pay should be the same.
Our season is the same length, I’m doing the same thing as men’s coaches.

Statistically in the United States, every dollar a man makes, woman makes $0.83.
While it might not be a huge gap, but it is significant for someone who is doing the same type of job.

I think we are going toward the right direction by we have some very strong women coaches who are leading the charge for this to change for women (Our Fair Shot).
We also have support from men’s coaches as well.
I’m very excited to see and to be a part of as this change grows.

Q:How do you think about women coaches career and pregnant?

A:I’m not sure. This is not the journey I have embarked on yet.
I’ve listened to a few Podcast recently where some former WNBA player share their experience when they were pregnant. They had no support and unpaid.meeting4
I know that this is changing with the WNBA but they had no support during that days.

I think things need to be more supportive. Also not just supportive for the mother.
It should be supportive for the father as well because it’s not just the mother.
I’ve researched some countries have paternal leave for the father.
This should be something that is thought about all the time for all families.

There is a woman coach in Texas A&M, Joni Taylor.
She had her baby and she was on the side lines, supporting her team, two days later after giving birth.

I think good coaches, their players, their coaching families, their assistant coaches, they are family. It’s nurturing. I think especially women coaches nurture their players, nurture their staff, and nurture their basketball family.

So, that was amazing to see because Johnny just showed how strong she was and how women could do both. She is a good picture for someone to look at.
She is doing it both. She is doing in a high level and very very well.


[More about Ashley’s life]

Q:How did you meet basketball?

childhoodA:When I was four years old, my dad purchased me a very small goal that you fill the bottom with water so that it stands up. He set it outside, gave me the ball, and I was in love with basketball.
It became our thing. I never really wanted to do anything else other than basketball.
There is a joke with my family that my brain is orange and it is in the shape of basketball.

Q:What did you like about basketball when you started playing?

A: I really enjoyed playing. I had a lot of fun playing. I am very competitive.
The idea that I could really work hard in my drive way or shooting, and then put it in the game, play, and win. I’ve just always enjoyed the competitive spirit and understanding if I work hard and I keep pushing forward, I get to translated it to the game.
And now I’ve taken this as a coach.

At the time of me growing up, the WNBA first started.
This was big for me.
My dad would take me to the WNBA games and we would go meet the players at the arena.
At one point, I begged him to take me to the hotel that Washington Mystics was staying before their games because Chamique Holdsclaw was there. I wanted to meet her. The WNBA were just…watching my players were playing in the college that I was following go play at the professional level.
It was big to me.

Q:What type of player were you?

A: I was a shooter. I could shoot really really well and really really far. I describe myself as very dirty on the court.
Whatever it took to get rebound or whatever it took to make sure my man was at scoring or getting to ball.
So, my coaches played me as a tough defender. They always knew I was gonna go after the ball and get the rebound.
If I would open, I was not gonna not shoot it.

I still love shooting. I shoot and compete with my players all the time.
There has been only one player in my history that beat me in the shooting game. I’m holding my title right now.

I sometimes join a small workout and shoot with girls.
Or at the end the workout, I play around with them.
It forms a whole different type of relationship with the player for me if I get out there with them because I can tell them how to do ABCD but I think it’s much different if they see that I do it too when I’m out there.
I think it’s cool for them to try to beat their coach. It keeps me young.

Q:Who was the most impactful person for you?

A:I have been blessed to have so many impactful people in my life.
I would like to describe myself as a sponge. I soak up as many information as possible.
I think my great grandfather was impactful for me.
There are still many things that I fall back on.
I feel he was a big part of my foundation of who I am as a woman.

And my college coach.
She recruited me and believed in me to come to the university.
Not many people believed in me. So, that was important to me.
I played for her two years and then she decided to go into different direction.

Also, the second college coach that they brought in to fill the for her spot.
The coach did the WNBA. I grew up watching this woman coach.
When it was announced, I was excited, screaming, and happy.
She has had a huge impact on my life even before she knew me.
When I got a job at Johnson & Wales University, she was my athletic director.
She hired me to come there.
There are many things that I now do as a coach that she used to do to me and my teammates.

In Croatia, I worked next to a legendary coach, coach Zeljko Ciglar. Croatia
He is huge in Croatian women’s basketball, but he has had such an impact on me because he allowed me to be myself, myself coaching in Croatia.
He gave me so much freedom with the young ladies.
He taught me so much. We would always get Cappucino together.
Just so many little nuggets of information he would drop on me.
Now that I’m older and I’m coaching, I feel “this is what he meant” and “this is what he would do.”
I ‘ve been very lucky to have a lot of impactful people in my life.

Q:If you have a chance, do you want to challenge in the WNBA?

A:I would love that.
My husband asks me all the time. I would love to coach in the WNBA.
Just so competitive and it’s the highest level.

I think the WNBA is changing.
I think it’s hanging women’s sports, not just women’s basketball.
They are not afraid of standing up for what they are believing.
I would love to be a part of organization like that.

Q:Do you have an irresistible routine in your daily life?

A:Definitely on game days, I have to workout because, before the game days,
I have stayed up preparing for the game or stayed up watching film or woke up in the middle of the night did something.
So, when I woke up on a game day, working out has to be the first thing that I do in order for me to, I guess, get prepared mentally for the game.

I have always been a runner, but here in Hong Kong,
I have developed a passion for lifting. It is reenergizing for me.
An hour of lifting gets everything out. It’s just a great way to start your day.

I also had a great trainer here.
I felt her…what I do for my players as far as confidence in themselves and pushing them to be better and different, she did this for me.
It changed a lot of how I approached to certain things and she also held me accountable.
I knew I had to see her.
If I expect my players to hold themselves accountable, I need to do it as well.
I think having a good coach, the trainer, made a big difference for me.

Q:What is your dream?

A:This is a hard question for me…I feel like I live my dream. meeting5
I just feel my path is mine.
I’ve been able to coach in so many different places and experience so many different cultures.
I wake up everyday and I get to do what I love.
I think that is a dream.

I don’t think everyone is so blessed that way.
People stop chasing their dream.
But I feel like I’m living in my dream.

Basketball is what I love.
Basketball is what my husband loves. There is a great understanding.
So, I just feel I get to live it.

Q:What is your favorite word?

A:I discovered an acronym when I was coaching in the university, Johnson & Wales, I used it for my team because it was the time we needed it.
I wrote F.E.A.R.
The letter can stand for two different things.
Forget Everything And Run” and “Face Everything And Rise.”

When I found, this stayed with me.
If I’m facing diversity, if I run away, it’s gonna just follow.
It’s much easier in life if we just face it, we get through it, and we rise.

You have two different choices which is fitting in life.
You can go left or you can go right.
What you choose to do is what dictates your path. So, I am big on face everything and rising.


[Message to women coaches and women players]

CampionNever let anyone tell you can’t do anything. You can do something.

I think women have an ability when we focus. What we can accomplish is amazing.
But women have a tendency to be distracted.
We have so many things going on. We’re all human.

There may be speedbumps in a life, but don’t let them be roadblocks.
You get over the speedbumps, you keep going.
Don’t stop at the roadblocks or go in a different way. Go through.



Ashley has been amazingly openhearted and courteous since the time I requested this interview.
She was so persistent to listen to my second language English and tried to understand my questions.
I really appreciate her cooperation.

Ashley’s story reminds me that “life is a string of moments.”
She cherishes each encounter and pushing herself forward to be better at anywhere she received.
Then the next opportunity comes toward her from the other side.
This series of events has made where she was standing today.
There was a book titled, “Bloom where God has planted you” (written by Kazuko Watanabe).
I feel she is exactly the same.

In the interview, she sometimes described herself that she was very competitive.
Because of her competitive nature, she has been able to bloom where she was given.
A key to success of coach Ashley may be her competitive nature and mindset to live in moments.

I look forward to seeing her holding a trophy in March Madness.


Ashley Raley-Ross
Wofford College Women’s Basketball, Assistant Coach

For requesting an interview, writing, ad placement, or basketball event coordination in Japan, feel free to contact us.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *