Redshirt senior Ashley Woods embodies everything a captain should be. She is passionate, respectful, enthusiastic and leads by example. Her focus and determination left no choice for her teammates but to vote her as the player “Most Likely to Become a Coach.”
This past season has been very emotional for Woods, especially playing her last home games two weekends ago. As she played her final two matches at the Knights Sports Complex, a place she has called home for five years, she was accompanied by her grandmother and aunt, who cheered her on from the stands.
Woods is the longest tenured Hurricane and has endured some losing seasons. Before this year, the most wins she saw in a season was 17. Now the Hurricanes have 25 and still have one match left to play. That is the highest figure since 2002, when that squad won 24 and became the only UM volleyball team to reach the NCAA tournament.
“It feels amazing to say I am one of the people to lead this team,” the humble Woods said. “To see the maturity of this team makes me feel great, considering I am one of the oldest on the team. To see the freshman step up is exciting.”
She has been awarded several team honors, including the 2006 “100 percent” award for her constant effort on and off the court and the 2007 MVP award for the annual Hurricane Invitational. This year, she was designated team captain.
One part of what makes Woods a great captain and teammate is that no one appreciates winning more than she does.
“Everyday feels so important because we have something to work hard for,” Woods said. “It makes it that much easier to go out there and give it all you have. Every game night is a thriller. We all are constantly on our computers seeing which teams won and which teams lost. It is an exciting time for us.”
Woods’ signature shot is the kill from the right side. Sophomore sensation Katie Gallagher sets her up with a lob and then the lefty ferociously spikes it. In her career, Woods has recorded over 650 kills, 200 blocks and 150 digs.
“[Woods] is a great leader,” head coach Nicole Lantagne Welch said. “[She is] an emotional person, a reliable and solid attacker on that right side and gives us a totally different dimension. She is a tremendous person too.”
Despite a busy schedule, Woods not only has time to be a student athlete, but also serves as an assistant to the men’s and women’s basketball teams and performs community service.
Last year Woods was an operations intern for the Hurricane Athletic Department. She assisted with daily events for the basketball teams.
“[Working in athletics] is something I plan to pursue for my career,” the sports administration major said. “Anything I can do to support Hurricane athletics – that internship allowed me to work in a totally different facet of Hurricanes sports, and I love it.”
Woods also loves giving back to the community, especially during the holiday season. She volunteers at youth events and charity functions. Her objective is to create relationships with people in the community, because a lot of times those are the same people that support her by attending her games.
Woods knows that her last regular season match will be emotional, as her volleyball career comes to an end.
“We all understand that there is a ring on the line here, and we want to do whatever it takes to get it done,” Woods said. “If that means putting the emotions aside, then that is what we will do.”