NASHVILLE – For Ashley Southern, her final season as a member of the Lipscomb women’s basketball team is proving to be a balancing act of new challenges both on and off the court.
Southern, who started grad school in the spring and is currently spending her days student teaching, is one of three seniors on the Lady Bisons roster this year. So, naturally, she and her fellow seniors, Chandler Cooper and Kelli Smith, have adjusted into a leadership role for the young Lipscomb squad.
“It does feel different,” Southern said. “It’s weird that you have one year left to play. I actually feel old for once. I actually can see a difference in my age, I guess. It’s been fun so far.”
The Tuscumbia, Alabama native will continue student teaching throughout this semester, including through the beginning of basketball season, before she picks back up with grad school in the spring.
“Student-teaching has been really busy,” Southern said. “I go nine to four every day, and then come straight here. So, I’ve been kind of tired. But, I don’t have any homework. It’s nice when everyone is studying, and I just get to kind of hang out.
“I started grad school last semester when I was an undergrad still, and it was actually really easy. So, I’m really excited to get to do that again.”
As Southern’s work load has picked up off the court, it will now be doing the same on the court. After being unanimously voted to the Atlantic Sun Preseason All-Conference, expectations are high for Southern to repeat the success of her previous two seasons at Lipscomb that saw her garner a conference rebounding title and a spot on the All-Conference Second Team in 2014.
“I think preseason awards don’t really mean anything,” Southern said. “They’re nice, but until you prove it in the season it doesn’t matter at all.
”I’m looking forward to getting out there and playing, and seeing what we can accomplish. I think a lot of people don’t think we can do much, and I think sometimes we even believe that, so I want to prove that wrong.”
The Lady Bisons have improved their win totals in each of head coach Greg Brown’s three seasons at the helm, but the team wants to make an even larger step forward this season.
“I think the way that we’re going to be able to have a better season is just by working together, and having a different mentality this year,” Southern said. “Look for growth. You won’t always see success; you won’t always see failure. In each game, in each practice, find a way to grow. I think that’s our main focus right now.
“I think our biggest challenge is ourselves, having the mindset that we can win, that everything we do is up to us. We can only control the things that we can control. The battle within ourselves is the biggest challenge.”
The Lady Bisons offense will run through the former UT-Chattanooga Moc and her array of post moves. She finished fifth in the conference in scoring last season (14.3) and has led the league in field goals made two years in a row. Southern keeps it vague when discussing her favorite post moves, a reply that would make any coach happy.
“I don’t know if I want to tell you that because I don’t want other people to know,” Southern said. “Whichever side they’re playing on, I’ll go the other way.”
Southern and the Lady Bisons take the court for an exhibition this Saturday at 6:30 p.m. in Allen Arena against Young Harris College before opening up the regular season at home versus Loyola (MD) on Nov. 13.