Ashley Nance finished her sixth season as head coach at Conway High School in Conway, Arkansas. Nance led the Lady Cats to a 30-2 season, as well as their third-straight appearance in the Arkansas Activities Association Class 7A state championship game.
Tell us a little about your background?
I was born and raised in Conway, Arkansas. Graduated college from the University of Central Arkansas. My father is a legendary high school basketball coach in our state. He has won 10 state championships and has coached in the McDonald’s All-American game. Both of my siblings played college basketball. Basketball has always been a huge part of our lives.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I enjoy being outdoors and spending time with my friends and family.
When did you know you wanted to be a coach?
Being a coach’s kid, I saw the impact my father was making in the lives of young people, and I learned a lot about the game at a young age. I can’t ever remember not wanting to be a coach.
Do you have any pregame rituals?
I do not.
What is/are the most challenging part(s) of your role?
As a high school coach, we obviously do not get the opportunity to recruit and pick our players, so for me it is taking the deck I am dealt each year and figuring out which hand is best, and how to put us in the best position to win.
How do you work through these challenges?
Making sure our athletes are developing fundamental skills at an early age, and also focusing on strength and conditioning of our athletes as well as development of character skills.
Briefly state your coaching philosophy; What values are important to you that you try to instill in your student-athletes?
At Conway, we play an up-tempo system. Everything we do in practice and in our strength and conditioning program is based around our style of play. We also want the culture we have created to be fun and exciting. The more fun our athletes have, the harder they work, so we constantly focus on “work hard, have fun.” I am what some would consider a "player’s coach.” I believe our athletes have to see that our coaching staff cares about them as an individual before they can respond to coaching.
What is your favorite memory in your current coaching role thus far?
I had the opportunity to be the assistant coach for my father in the 2015 McDonald’s All-American game. To spend a week with the best basketball players in the country, and experience coaching alongside my father was something I will cherish for the rest of my life.
What does it mean to you to be recognized as a WBCA “Thirty Under 30” honoree?
It is an honor to be considered a part of an elite group of young coaches. There is a lot of hard-work and sacrifice that is put into the coaching profession and anytime we can be recognized for our hard-work it provides us with energy to continue investing in the lives of our athletes.
The WBCA recognizes annually the WBCA's Thirty Under 30 recipients. This recognition was created to honor thirty of the up-and-coming women's basketball coaches age 30 and under in the sport at all levels of the game. For more information on the award, click here.