Prior to the Ashland University's women's basketball team's 2017-18 home opener vs. Notre Dame College on Tuesday (Nov. 14) at 6 p.m., there will be a national championship ring ceremony at 5:30 p.m. at Kates Gymnasium.
The ring ceremony contest, open to Ashland University fans of all ages and all locations, was announced in August. Fans were encouraged to submit a video or letter, typed or written, explaining why they are a fan of the team, why being a part of the ceremony would be meaningful, how the team has helped them personally or in the community, etc.
Sixteen people have been chosen to present rings to 11 players, four coaches and the athletic trainer at the ceremony, and seven names are revealed below, with snippets of their submissions. The first eight names were announced last week.
Andi Daugherty, presented by Braden Phillips (written by father Phillip) – "Braden has looked up to the Eagles as mentors, and they have inspired him so much. Not just in the sport of basketball, but being a good teammate, working hard in school, and giving his best effort. He sleeps with a Tuffy doll every night, and his Eagle picture on his night stand. Presenting a championship ring would not only fill Braden with excitement and joy, but would be another wonderful moment and memory with the Eagles. It would also be a great self-confidence booster for him, and another reason for him to see just how lucky he really is."
Rachelle Morrison, presented by Courtney Farver – "I simply could not pass up the opportunity to express my appreciation for the AUWBB program, as well as what the Championship Ring Ceremony would mean to me! This program, from Maria Dehne to Andi Daugherty, from Lynsey Warren to Laina Snyder, from Betsy Morrison to Rachelle Morrison has a history of exceptional women working toward a common goal: how do we succeed together, while honoring our program, our University, and our Creator. To be able to honor these 2016-2017 champions at the ring ceremony would be my way of saying thank you to a program that allows me to stay involved with a sport that I love, thank you for allowing me to be an active part of the Eagle Nation family, and thank you for recognizing the incredible history of fan support that makes our Eagle program so unique!"
Julie Worley, presented by Ken and Diana Youngman – "When our friends ask us why do you go all over and watch a women's basketball team play, our answer is 'They are the daughters we never had.' Diana was stricken with some maladies on the Friday prior to the Eagles playing in the Elite Eight, and spent five days in the hospital. She flat out told the physicians she was leaving on Tuesday because we were going to Columbus to watch the daughters we never had. These young ladies are, to us, 'The daughters we never had.'"
Tim Fralick, presented by David Brown – "My Great Great Aunt and Uncles' house used to sit where Kates Gym is now. That was 832 King Road. Presenting a ring to a national champion would be very meaningful and a dream that I would remember for a long long time."
Stacie Travis, presented by Douglas A. Gildenmeister – "It would be such an honor for me to be able to present one of the rings to the players and coaches. I simply have fallen in love with this program. They play the game with great focus, enthusiasm, and effort. They play the game so unselfishly in the way that they honor the Lord in their play and their life. The way their game is always working to glorify the Lord in their play and their living should be an inspiration to all of us."
Kari Pickens, presented by Phil Zimmerman – "In March 2004, I was introduced to AU Women's Basketball by being the charter bus driver for the team on their first NCAA Division II Women's Basketball Midwest Regional Tournament appearance at Quincy University in Quincy, Illinois. In the thirteen years since that first introduction, I have had the pleasure of being with the women's basketball team for numerous trips and miles. To be a part of this ceremony would be an honor, as my wife and I have become friends with many of the former and current coaches, managers, and trainers. The entire team has been a pleasure to be around. I will always remember the many hours and miles that have been spent with the AU Women's Basketball team."
Robyn Fralick, presented by Barb Hendrix (letter provided in list from A-Z) – " Awarded: I was awarded AUWBB Fan of the Year in '12-13 and the Sue Ramsey Award in '16-17… Cheering: I have been cheering at home and away basketball games for over 25 years… Understanding: The players and coaches understand how very much the fans love the team. They take time to say hello and makes fane feel important. X-Tended: Extended family is what I consider all the players, families, coaches, and fans I have met in my 20 plus years of being an AUWBB fan."
Ashland's women completed NCAA Division II's first 37-0 women's or men's basketball season in 2016-17, scoring a D-II women's hoops-record 3,456 points in the process. It was the program's second national championship (2013).
The Eagles have the longest winning streak (39 games) of any basketball team, men or women, at any level of the NCAA, and that winning streak is the fourth-longest in Division II women's basketball history.