#InspireLSSports| Team USA Basketball Wraps Up Summer Olympics With Gold Medal Victories

It was a clean sweep of the gold for the United States men’s and women’s national basketball squads. Team USA closed out a memorable Summer Olympics in Rio with wins in the tournament finals over the weekend. The American men dodged a few close calls to reach the finale, but put together a complete effort to finish their stay in Rio with a 96-66 victory over Serbia.

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#WomenInSport| Leading By Example: Ashley Thomas – Growing The Game

In a world that can seem all too chaotic, athletes find peace in the sports they play, they build lifelong relationships and learn lessons that will apply in everyday life. This is true no matter the age, gender or sport; participating in athletics is a lot more than just playing a game. Although results and mistakes can be frustrating, the lessons learned through the hardships of playing team sports will always stick with you as an athlete. A personal saying I like to tell a person is, “Everyone has a story, and it’s up to that individual to tell his or her story”. We all face adversity at one point or another, we all have success and failures that ultimately make us who we are. This past week I had the pleasure of interviewing Ashley Thomas of the Akron Racers and learned more about her journey to the National Pro Fastpitch.

Thomas Celebrates Extra Base Hit (Phil Masturzo/Akron Beacon Journal)

Thomas Celebrates Extra Base Hit (Phil Masturzo/Akron Beacon Journal)

In a world that can seem all too chaotic, athletes find peace in the sports they play, they build lifelong relationships and learn lessons that will apply in everyday life. This is true no matter the age, gender or sport; participating in athletics is a lot more than just playing a game. Although results and mistakes can be frustrating, the lessons learned through the hardships of playing team sports will always stick with you as an athlete. A personal saying I like to tell a person is, “Everyone has a story, and it’s up to that individual to tell his or her story”. We all face adversity at one point or another, we all have success and failures that ultimately make us who we are. This past week I had the pleasure of interviewing Ashley Thomas of the Akron Racers and learned more about her journey to the National Pro Fastpitch.

Growing Up

It’s not always easy growing up in a military family, with the traveling and uncertainty of when the next move would come, it can take its toll on families. Ashley, whose dad is in the Navy, experienced this first hand as a young girl, seeing her parents divorce and eventually moved away with her mother. Although a difficult moment in her life, Ashley credits her parents’ support in finding her passion to play softball. After moving around a bit, Ashley’s mom settled in McKinney, Texas just outside of the Dallas area. It was there where Thomas decided to focus more on softball and pursue her passion for the game. “I ended up choosing softball… honestly between softball, basketball and dance it was the one I liked the most… I would rather be outside rolling around in the dirt!” Ashley joked. Determined to play, she would get involved with a local team and eventually find herself on one of Texas’ Elite softball programs the Texas Glory. An organization that has helped propel softball players to the collegiate level, Thomas developed a new goal: Play college softball.

The road wouldn’t be easy for Ashley, as she continued to play her size and physical ability would be brought into question by some of her very own coaches. “Because of me being so small… you will always have those people that are like ‘you are not going to be able to do it, you can’t do it!” These comments would motivate Thomas to work harder to achieve her goal of playing in college. Through the support system in place, including her parents, Ashley would continue to excel at the sport. “I worked really really hard, I tried to work harder than anyone else on the team, put in a lot of extra hours outside of team practices and high school practices… and I had a great high school coach.”

In high school, Thomas was a four-year letter winner for the now legendary Coach Greenway at McKinney High School. She still holds school records in multiple categories for the softball program and credits Greenway for developing her not only as an athlete but also as a person. “As of right now I consider him family!” The two began their careers at McKinney together; Greenway was named head coach while Thomas was a freshman. “He helped me through a lot of things… not only the mental side of the game but life. He gave me books about how to be a good person, how to live your life the right way. To me that was a lot more touching than any skills he taught me in softball.” For the first time in her young career Ashley was given support by a coach not only determined to make her a better player but a better person. When you are told, “you cant!” your whole life, it becomes quite the motivator when someone tells you “you can!” Ashley had quite the support system in place, her stepfather Brandon, encouraged Ashley and her sister achieve their dreams.

Following practice or long days of traveling, Brandon would put in extra practice hours practicing with the girls time that Thomas found important. “He was so supportive with us and put in so many hours practicing with us. I am lucky to have a stepdad like Brandon!” Thomas improved throughout her four years at McKinney, eventually earning a scholarship and committing to play at Arkansas. The people around her have exemplified what it means to lead by example, and Ashley would take that with her in the next part of her journey to College.

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The College Process

Again, Thomas would encounter some hardship in her life, during the recruiting process a sudden coaching change would lead her to de-commit from Arkansas and find an opportunity with Georgia Tech. Ashley would reopen the recruiting process and wonder if she would even play college softball. “I was like now I have no where to go… the older and older you get in the recruiting process, it gets a little scarier.” Fortunately Thomas would land at Georgia Tech and continue to elevate her play in one of the nation’s best conferences. In 2013, she was named ACC Player of the year along with All-ACC first team honors. In her senior season, Thomas led the team in batting average, hits, runs and on base percentage. Her stellar year landed her on the 2014 USA Softball Player of the Year Top 50 watch list.

Ashley graduated from Georgia Tech in 2014 with a degree in business administration and was drafted 16th overall in the National Pro Fastpitch college draft and would decide to continue playing professional softball. “I remember watching on the computer… hearing my name, that I was on the Akron Racers… it was the most exciting thing… teared up a little bit!” Although many times in her career Thomas had been told she would not make it, being drafted to play professional softball was the ultimate payback to those who doubted her.
Academy

 

Following her first season with the Racers, Thomas realized the impact she not only had on little girls at the game but the overall growth of the game. Throughout her life Ashley has always bounced around from place to place. After her parents divorced two new siblings were added to the family, with a sister in California and another in Arkansas, Ashley wanted to remain a steady presence for both. After doing some camps and finding the benefit in growing the game to the younger generation and the inspiration of being “closer” to her sisters, Thomas founded AshleyThomasAcademy.com, an online virtual softball academy. “I am always kind of everywhere… so me and my stepdad came up with the idea to have it a virtual thing… where can still stay in contact with the girls I set my roots down with in Hot Springs, and then also help out my other little sisters.” Always determined to help others, Ashley found a way to pursue her passion and increase the growth of girl’s softball everywhere. “For me now is to help the younger generation of softball players, and even the younger generation of women.” The online academy provides video analysis with guided instructions and drills, access to all workouts and hitting drills, and a one on one with Ashley regarding the mental aspects of hitting.

 

 

 

W| By Luis Sánchez                        @Luis_MyW

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#InspireLSSports| #Rio2016: Team USA Basketball Recaps

The U.S. men’s and women’s basketball squads are moving on to the knockout stage in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. One thing seems certain – the women should have a much easier time en route the gold, but the men’s squad had to sweat out their last three games in preliminary play to reach the next stage.

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#InspireLSSports| #Rio2016 Simone Manuel Claims Gold In Historic 100m Freestyle Final

United States Simone Manuel become the first-ever African-American swimmer to be crowned Olympic champion and has shared her gold medal with Canada’s Penny Oleksiakwhen their 100m freestyle final ended in dead heat; both Manuel and Oleksiak touched the finishing board at 52.70 seconds.

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@InspireLSSports |#Rio2016 Team USA Basketball Squeaks By Australia

At some point in these Summer Olympics, Team USA would find itself “battle tested” against one of the world’s top basketball squads. That test came in the form of Australia on Wednesday night, and the Aussies, indeed, gave everything the Americans could handle for much of their preliminary matchup.

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#InspireLSSports| MyWSports and In-spire LS Magazine Announces Partnership for Rio Olympic Games

LONDON, England and BOSTON, MA.

MyWSports and In-Spire LS Magazine to produce and promote new content on the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and beyond. Both networks will work closely in growing the media coverage and promoting women in sports throughout the Rio Olympic Games.

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#InspireLSSports| Rio 2016 Olympics – Team USA Basketball Recaps

The United States men’s basketball team had an easy start to the Rio Olympics with a blowout win over China. But Team USA started their second preliminary round matchup against Venezuela on Monday in a bit of a struggle, but eventually got things going late in the first half to pull away for a 113-69 triumph.

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#Rio2016 #TheRoadToRio: Nicola Adams: The Champion Returns

Nicola Adams adored watching and studying footage of the “The Greatest” Muhammad Ali during adolescence in Leeds. The prolific reigning and defending Olympic gold champion – who is of Jamaican and Nigerian heritage – added the prestigious amateur world title to her ever-growing resume in May 2016 and appears to further etch her name in the history books in successfully defending the Olympic crown at this summer’s highly anticipated Rio 2016 Olympics. Only one British athlete in Olympic history has ever achieved the monumental feat in claiming back-to-back gold medals in boxing in two separate Olympic games: Middleweight Harry Mallin (Antwerp 1920Paris 1924). Heavyweight Boxing sensation Anthony Joshua also claimed gold for Great Britain at the London 2012 Olympics when Adams triumphed in claiming the Olympic crown.

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